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Reilly expert got €50,000 for HSE advice
[Posted: Fri 29/06/2012 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
One of Health Minister James Reilly's highly-paid outside experts hired recently to cut hospital waiting times was also paid over €50,000 by the HSE last year for advice on hospital services.
Lis Nixon is currently earning €164,000 per annum until the end of 2014 as Director of Performance Improvement for Unscheduled Care with the Minister's Special Delivery Unit (SDU), following a tender for a management consultancy.
In addition to the €492,000 that will be spent by on Ms Nixon's current contract over three years, new figures from the HSE show that her company, Lis Nixon Associates, received a total of €51,187 last year for consultancy work relating to the HSE's Acute Medicine Programme and diagnostic visits to and reports relating to a number of hospitals.
Dr Reilly's Department is currently spending around €1.8 million on outside experts, including €730,000 in payments to senior SDU adviser Martin Connor, all hired to help cut treatment waiting lists and ED trolley waits.
Further consultancies are expected to be appointed in the future by the SDU.
Meanwhile, according to the HSE, it paid out a total of €8.2 million in 2011 for outside consultants and external support.
Many of these consultancies were hired for work on improving hospital and other health services. In addition to Lis Nixon Associates, these include:
Luke Van Doorn - Development and delivery of OPD cost weights-casemix - €33,161.
Meridian Productivity - Assessing the productivity of primary care teams - €41,959.
Royal College of Surgeons - Programme management support - €647,092
Royal College of Physicians- Histopathology/radiology project - €252,114.
Simon Walford - Support to acute medicine strategy team - €59,371.
FBV Keane - Leading surgery programme -€53,125.
In addition, the ESRI was paid €3.5 million by the HSE last year for its ongoing analysis of hospital activity under the casemix system.
Also, Ernst & Young received €69,145 for a value for money study.
The HSE, in a report to the Dail Public Accounts Committee this week, said it had reduced considerably in recent years its spending on outside consultancy services. It spent €21.2 million on these services in 2005, compared to the €8.2 million spent last year.
The health executive's total outside consultancy spend since its inception in 2005 is around €95 million.
The HSE report says it had tightened up its procurement and compliance procedures in relation to hiring outside consultancies following criticism made in a Comptroller and Auditor General's (C&AG) report in 2010.
The health executive says it now complies with the reporting procedures required by the C&AG, and it monitors and addresses non-compliance with these conditions.
The C&AG, in an audit sample of consultancies dating from 2006-2010, had noted a lack of open tendering, monitoring, and financial controls in some cases during this period.
The HSE, in its report this week to the PAC, admitted that many of the instances outlined by the Comptroller at the time represented an unacceptable level of non-compliance with procurement and financial regulations of the HSE.
However, the HSE said it still had a difficulty in real-time monitoring of contracting as there was no single procurement and financial system in place.
The HSE said in its own examination of consultancy policy "had encountered historical issues which relate to prior years as part of a clean-up and movement to new and and improved processes."
"For future years we see a need to define the meaning of consultancy," it added.
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