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There are no plans to change the HSE advice on WhatsApp usage that the Executive introduced two years ago, during the early weeks of the pandemic. 

In June 2020, it was first reported that the Executive had abandoned a tender procurement process to provide its own messaging service for its staff. 

Instead, it said that in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, it had changed its policy and guidance for staff using WhatsApp. 

In May 2021, it was further reported that the HSE said its information and communications technology (ICT) department was “fully focused on the response to the cyber attack”. It had no plans to change the WhatsApp policy or restart the procurement process for a new messaging system. 

Last month, a HSE spokesperson said two years on from its introduction, “the guidance as to WhatsApp usage published on 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 online 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’. As of last month, the video has over 3,500 views. 

In April 2019, it was reported that the HSE was working on a tender to provide a messaging service, similar to WhatsApp, for its staff following approval by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. 

However, the procurement process was ended as a result of the outbreak of the pandemic.