Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport

National Cyber Security Centre Review: Discussion

Photo of Ossian SmythOssian Smyth (Dún Laoghaire, Green Party) | Oireachtas source

I will start with the question about waiting lists. Waiting lists are an operational matter for the HSE and a strategic matter for the Department of Health. They are outside of my remit to some extent. From an IT point of view, a waiting list attaches to a particular consultant and consultants are attached to particular hospitals. This means that there are multiple waiting lists around the country that are not really connected with each other. It is difficult to say, for example, how many people are on multiple waiting lists and how many unique people are on all the waiting lists that are in the country. I know the Sláintecare team and the HSE have been looking at ways of unifying those waiting lists to get some idea of who is on more than one waiting list, whether people should be transferred from one list to another or whether there should be shared lists that go outside of a single consultant. There is an IT aspect to waiting list management and there is also the question of how to keep track of whether the people on waiting lists are still waiting for operations and whether they still require the service. The HSE made great progress in making sure that people who are on waiting lists still intend to have the procedure they are waiting for. The Senator is right that it is outside of my area.

On funding, it is easy to think that money is the solution to all of the problems. That is not the case in this situation. The HSE had its IT funding doubled in recent years. It also had a massive increase in staff. As I said before, the funding for the NCSC had tripled in the previous year. A great deal of money is available. I had no sense when I was speaking to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform or when we presented our memorandum to Cabinet that the Government was not willing to spend whatever it took to secure the HSE and national cybersecurity assets. Money is not an issue and we will have the best security operations centre and headquarters for cybersecurity that will be as good as any other country in Europe. It is not a financial thing; it comes down to a cultural approach to the priority that is given to cybersecurity and the seriousness with which it is taken. If one looked over previous meetings of the Joint Committee on Health and saw how much time was spent on discussing cybersecurity, I would imagine it was quite small compared with other issues because there are so many other pressing life and death issues within health. Having political support for cybersecurity might be more important than having a budget and it will not be constrained in any way by a lack of money.


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