Nine public servants from Louth County Council have been redeployed to the HSE Live call centre in Ardee to assist in dealing with the increase in calls to the service amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
The staff members from the community, sports and culture sections based at County Hall in Dundalk have been moved to the call centre at St Brigid’s Hospital in Ardee. Initially a phone only service that launched in 2003, a local team of operators in Ardee oversaw a transition that seen the service incorporate multi-platform methods of communication in recent years, officially re-launching as HSE Live in 2017.
Speaking at the March monthly meeting of Louth County Council on Monday morning, Chief Executive Joan Martin confirmed that the staff had been redeployed to Ardee. “Every public servant in the country is now required to be available for redeployment to other services,” she said. “The HSE made a direct request to myself and the chief executive in Meath County Council to help them out with the call centre in Ardee.
“Some of our staff are doing that work. I would like to pay tribute to those staff. It’s very challenging. They have been thrown in at the deep end in an area of work they are not used to.”
Originally a regional service for the North East only -catering for Louth, Meath, Cavan and Monaghan – it became a national service in 2005. HSE Live now provides support over the phone, via Twitter on @HSELive and via e-mail too. It’s popular LiveChat feature is currently disabled. A Covid-19 chatbot has replaced it. HSE Live is available 6 days a week – 8am to 8pm and 10pm to 5pm on Saturday.
The HSE Live team is available 6 days a week and are well versed in navigating the health service, explaining about entitlements and how best to access services and supports locally. They aim to inform the public where to go and what to do when it comes to access health and social care needs, with a particular focus now on the Covid-19 pandemic.
Martin told the meeting that the local authority were formulating contingency plans to scale down their operations to provide only necessary services, should staff be redeployed elsewhere or money dry up. The council say they currently provide 600 different services across the county – but that could be scaled down to as little as 13, which would include water, fire service, homelessness provisions and Housing Assistance Payments.
“Depending on national need, there could be a call for more and more of our staff,” she said.
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