A willingness to engage with health and safety advice, as well as bonding across businesses and communities, are among the big positives to come from the Covid-19 crisis.
Professor John Gallagher, managing director of occupational health provider Cognate Health, says there is a clear unity of purpose as the country heads into what may well be the most difficult fortnight in the current health crisis.
“The manner in which the Government has communicated the public messaging has been very well managed,” said Prof Gallagher. “The Government has been very decisive.
“People have been self-isolating, which is very important because we are always a week behind the virus. If someone gets infected, the symptoms will only show after six or seven days.
“There is some optimism to be had from the shape of the curve, and how its flattening will help the critical healthcare services to get through this. The one thing we don’t have a great idea about, given that we have largely stopped testing in the community, is the numbers of people with the virus.”
Prof Gallagher is well placed to gauge how well businesses and the general public are engaging with the health campaigns.
Headquartered in Cork, Prof Gallagher and his
Cognate Health partner, Dr Kevin O’Sullivan, have been working in occupational health for the past 30 years.
Cognate Health manages a network of occupational health physicians (OHPs), and supports hospitals, including Bons Secours, South Infirmary and Mercy, as well as supporting Cork City Council and Cork County Council.
Cognate has just rolled out Dayone+, a remote case management system for occupational health. The system will support businesses, along with alleviating an overburdened healthcare system. The launch was due to take place later this month.
Cognate brought forward the launch of Dayone+ to assist businesses in their duty of care to employees, giving access to expert clinical advice from dedicated occupational health practitioners.
Developed for general work situations, Dayone+ also has a real resonance for managing worker illness in the present crisis. Its rollout now also shows that employers are thinking beyond Covid-19.
Dayone+ reduces the time it takes to get employees back to health by opening the lines of communication remotely from the first day of sickness absence.
Prof Gallagher said: “On day one, typically the employer advises that the person is out of work. Our case manager contacts the employee. On day three, we check on progress, offering options such as physio, employee assistance, ergonomics etc.
“By day ten, if they are still absent from work, the person will then see an OHP for a full assessment. All this time, we’re keeping the employer appraised regarding the absence,” he said. “This ensures the person gets the best care, speeding up their recovery and their return to work.”
Prof Gallagher said the Dayone+ service will continue to have a place beyond Covid-19, because companies always need a system they can trust to ensure people
return to work safely from any absence. The immediate benefits are obvious.
“These are extraordinary times and out of necessity, we have brought forward the launch of our remote case management service, Dayone+. This allows for a dedicated case manager to make early contact and work with an employee to bring them back to health, while keeping the business informed every step of the way,” he said.
The service can remotely assess employees who have been in self-isolation and need work-related advice prior to returning to work.
It will also advise employers on the necessary steps they can take if an employee is suffering from Covid-like symptoms such as a fever, cough or respiratory difficulties.
Prof Gallagher is also seeing a positive in the adaptation of remote working. He expects that the success companies have seen with remote digital chats and conferences will lead to more use of video consulting
within occupational health.
He added: “The ‘home office’ is set to become the new normal for many of us for a while. However, coping with this, along with the situation we are now finding ourselves in, can lead to profound physical and psychological effects.
“Many companies are coming to terms with having teams now working remotely and may not have all the systems in place yet on best workplace management. Coupled with this,
remote working can be quite lonely — especially when you haven’t done it before — and many people are also carrying additional worries on their shoulders such as elderly parents, no childcare, and financial concerns.
“This will only grow in the foreseeable future,” he said. “Whether you are working remotely or traditionally, there will always be a need for occupational health
services and we are here to cater for both with the launch of this platform.”
In terms of Covid-19, Prof Gallagher is optimistic that the public will continue to heed the national health messaging, which will be just as important after the virus reaches its peak,
probably within the next fortnight.
“When the curve flattens out and we get to the end of April, and we start thinking that we’re getting over the hill, we will still need to heed the advice while we are on the downward slope.
“At that point, the challenge will be to decide when we can start to ease up on the brakes. The public has been great in buying into all of the messaging so far, so I would be optimistic that everyone will continue to listen to the advice.”
Professor Gallagher, Dr O’Sullivan and many of the members of their network of OHPs are also supporters of HSE South, helping out those in the occupational health department, which has currently moved from CUH to the Boole Basement in UCC.
They are seeing first hand the public goodwill that is out there for the health experts, in whom the public is placing its trust and belief.
“A colleague in the support team in UCC was heading back down to the Boole Basement carrying four cups of coffee. Someone asked him where he was heading with all the coffee. When he told him he’d be back for more for other team members, the man went off and brought back coffee and food for the team.
“It’s a bit like the ‘Feed the Heroes’ campaign, which has generated a phenomenal response. These are very challenging times, but when you see how people are
responding, these are also times when you really feel good about people.”
Brand building and marketing have never been more important for businesses — according to the Marketing Institute of Ireland.
MII has newly appointed David Field as interim CEO. His prior roles include commercial trading director at Eason, marketing director for Brown Thomas, and head of marketing and retail
development for Eason.
He has also held senior roles with Glanbia, Superquinn and Fresh, the good food market.
Gerard O’Neill, chair of MII and chair of Amárach Research, said: “We are very pleased to have someone of David’s calibre take up the role of chief executive at this challenging time.
“He is a highly experienced, driven and capable business leader who brings extensive skills and experience to the role,” added Mr O’Neill.
David Field was until very recently chair of the MII board. He has stepped down from that role, and has been replaced by Gerard O’Neill, who is acting as MII’s interim chair for the next six months. MII’s previous CEO was Tom Trainor.
Gerard O’Neill said that David Field’s extensive knowledge and understanding of MII and the needs of its members was vital to the institute’s members, an a very important consideration in the appointment as members face up to the challenges presented by Covid-19.
David Field is an independent strategic commercial, marketing and eCommerce consultant with extensive experience of supporting businesses and organisations to strategically analyse their brand and marketing assets and develop winning business, brand and marketing strategies that deliver on his clients’ commercial and brand objectives.
The Marketing Institute is the professional body for the marketing sector in Ireland. It shares best practice, insights and expert content, building the community of marketers, and aiding marketers in career progression.
MII also owns and operates the All-Ireland Marketing Awards, the CMO Summit, and DMX Dublin, Ireland’s largest marketing conference.
Law firm Matheson has added four new partners in Q1 2020 as the company continues to expand, most notably in its London and Cork offices.
In all, the firm has added seven new partners in the past six months, bringing its total number of partners to 96.
The seven new partners are: David Fitzgibbon, corporate M&A; Deirdre Crowley, employment, technology and innovation, data privacy; David Jones, corporate M&A; Kimberley Masuda, commercial real estate; Susanne McMenamin, corporate M&A; Dermot Powell, partner and general counsel, risk management; Philip Tully, tax.
Michael Jackson, managing partner at Matheson, said: “The past 12 months have seen significant growth across the firm, such as the expansion of our London and Cork offices, and the establishment of the Matheson Digital Services Group.
“As we move further into 2020, external developments such as in relation to the future trading relationship between the EU and the UK, climate and sustainability considerations, ongoing tech disruption — and of course potential changes arising from the creation of a new Government programme of activity — will have implications for our clients and their businesses.
“These new appointments underpin our continued growth in both the capacity and the expertise that we offer to clients.”
Irish financial services firm Prepaid Financial Services has significantly expanded its global reach following its acquisition this week by EML.
PFS/EML is now one of the largest prepaid FinTech enablers in the world, while Meath-based PFS has also become part of a listed entity, EML
Payments. This deal was approved by the financial regulators in the UK and Ireland.
The deal is a positive note against the backdrop of global share prices plummeting due to Covid-19 slowing markets, with the value of FinTechs also impacted.
Noel Moran, CEO at PFS, said: “In light of the current worldwide business reality, I believe we have achieved a great result for everyone involved. We are eager to play a pivotal role in complementing EML’s sizeable international and diversified electronic money portfolio.”
PFS delivers payment technology solutions, a pioneer in electronic money. Its solutions include eWallets, physical and virtual prepaid cards, IBAN accounts and consumer and business current accounts in the UK and eurozone.
EML Payments also manages payment processing, helping businesses to improve customer service and increase brand loyalty. It provides solutions for payouts, gifts, incentives and rewards, and supplier payments. It manages more than 1,500 programs across 23 countries in North America, Europe and Australia.
Highly experienced chartered accountant Paul D’Alton has been named interim CEO and as an executive director of both FBD Holdings plc and FBD Insurance plc.
He is succeeding Fiona Muldoon who told the board of her intention to step down as group CEO and director last October.
She made the announcement after the group’s pretax profit more than doubled last year to €112.5m and it proposed a dividend of €1 per share for investors.
FBD’s chairman Liam Herlihy said: “I would like to thank Fiona for her hard work and effective contribution to FBD over the last five years. She has been instrumental in the transformation and development that has taken place in FBD.
“Her relentless focus on the business and its customers has been remarkable. Shareholders and the community alike have benefitted hugely from her tireless efforts for FBD. We wish her the very best for the future.
“Paul is highly regarded in the investment community and as a former FBD colleague he knows our business well. I look forward to his contribution to FBD.”
Mr D’Alton brings vast experience in general insurance and banking, notably as interim chief financial officer of FBD and chief financial officer of Bank of Ireland.