Shadow Minister for Health Georgie Crozier MP – interview with Nicole Chvastek
Chvastek says the Vic Government is examining the scale of a ransomware attack on major regional hospitals that has forced healthcare providers to go offline. She adds it will disrupt some elective surgery and some out-patient appointments.
Chvastek notes she invited Vic Health Minister Jenny Mikakos for an interview but she declined. Crozier states it is a significant issue affecting Vic’s health system and Vic Premier [Daniel Andrew’s] brushing off of the issue shows his disregard for Victorian patients.
Chvastek notes there was a call by the Vic Auditor-General last May for the government to ramp up efforts in protecting the state’s databases. Crozier says the Auditor-General had said Vic’s public health system is highly vulnerable to the kind of cyberattacks that have been experienced elsewhere. She points out she raised the issue in Parliament last February when Cabrini Health had a cyberattack and asked if there were breaches to other Vic hospital networks but the minister just ignored it. Crozier discusses the implications of the cyberattack.
Chvastek says she spoke with a board member of a regional hospital and she was told regional hospitals are struggling just to meet their payroll.
Crozier states the description by the board member is alarming and highly unacceptable. She accuses Andrews and Mikakos of not caring for Victorians. She discusses the state of funding allocation to regional hospitals.
Chvastek states Mikakos has said the government is injecting $30m into the latest digital infrastructure and cybersecurity.
Crozier says $30m out of a $20b health budget is pitiful considering the importance of the issue. Crozier urges the government to invest properly to give the networks the money they need for cybersecurity.
I’m speaking to Georgie Crozier, the State Opposition spokesperson for health.
I requested an interview with the Health Minister and the Health Minister, Jenny Mikakos declined.
Georgie Crozier, we’ve seen reports recently of the dire financial straits that regional hospitals are in. I spoke to a board member of a regional hospital today, and she told me that this is a function, these attacks have happened to regional hospitals and this is a function of the financial stress in which hospitals are finding themselves.
She says regional hospitals are struggling to even meet their payroll each fortnight and pay their staff, and this is funding starvation, that they simply do not have the capacity to mount major cyber protection programs in an environment where they can’t even pay their staff.
Nicole, that description that you’ve described by that board member is highly alarming.
For staff not to be able to be paid is one thing, but for patient safety to be compromised, is highly unacceptable and it beggars belief that we have not heard from the Minister. This happened over 24 hours ago and we get a statement just minutes ago about this cyber-attack. I think that it just is telling how Daniel Andrews and Jenny Mikakos regard regional Victorians and regional Victorian patients.
These hospitals and the management, the board members and the management that are crying out, they’re just getting loose change from this government. It is a slap in the face to regional Victorians and I, like other members of the Victorian community, are very concerned about the funding cuts that have occurred and insufficient funding that hospitals can have, so that those patients when they walk through the door can get the care and management that they need and deserve.