The HSE has no plans to change its staff policy on WhatsApp usage, which was introduced during the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In June 2020, the Medical Independent (MI) reported that the Executive had abandoned a tender procurement process to provide its own messaging service for staff.
Instead, due to the pandemic, the HSE changed its policy and guidance for staff using WhatsApp.
In May 2021, the HSE said its information and communications technology (ICT) department was “fully focused on the response to the cyberattack”. It had no plans to change the WhatsApp policy or restart the procurement process for a new messaging system.
In June 2022, a HSE spokesperson told MI that “the guidance as to WhatsApp usage published on HSE.ie still stands. Given the challenges that the HSE ICT teams are managing, this issue has not been a priority.”
According to the HSE’s current guidance, “you can download WhatsApp to your HSE smartphone or device and use it for messaging, audio or video call. WhatsApp will be available for the duration of the Covid-19 outbreak. When using WhatsApp for work, you must conform with the HSE’s data protection policies and procedures.”
The guidance page has a link to a YouTube video called, ‘Setting up WhatsApp for HSE staff’. The video has over 3,500 views.
In April 2019, MI reported that the HSE was working on a tender to provide a staff messaging service, similar to WhatsApp, following approval by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
However, the procurement process was not completed due to the onset of the pandemic.