HSE paid €4 million to outside consultants
The HSE paid out over €4 million outside consultancy services in the first six months of 2011 while it was implementing major cuts in its budget and shedding thousands of permanent staff, according to new figures released to irishhealth.com
Among the big payouts was a fee of nearly €70,000 to a consultancy firm advising the health executive on value-for-money in healthcare.
The single biggest consultancy payout in the six-month period was to the ESRI, which received €2.06 million from the HSE for operating the hospital casemix system, which analyses hospital data and is used to assist hospital budgeting and other functions.
Another big consultancy payout by the HSE during the six months was to the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland,(RCPI) which received €189,524 for what are listed as histopathology and radiology projects.
The RCPI told irishhealth.com the money was paid to it for developing and delivering quallty assurance programmes in these specialties. These programmes were developed following high-profile misdiagnoses and diagnosis delays in these specialties, the RCPI said, and will ultimately minimise errors and delays and lead to improved care.
Compupac IT solutions also received a big payout for operating an IT help desk - this cost the HSE, and the taxpayer, €110,584. Amrop Strategis was paid just over €94,114 for human resource consultancy services.
The HSE told irishhealth.com that the full year figure for external consultancy payouts for 2011 were not yet available. It said it paid just under €10.5 million in consultancy fees in 2010.
Among the other big consultancy payouts in January to June 2011 was €69,145 to Ernst & Young for a VFM (value for money) study. Another firm, Aurion Ltd, was paid €66,249 for IT work, while an IT audit by Mazars cost the HSE €47,731.
Another IT consultant firm, Westbourne Solutions, received €52,236 for IT advice.
Simon Walford, a UK consultant physician and adviser to the UK Department of Health, was paid €51,167 for advising the HSE's Acute Medicine Strategy team in drawing up a report in 2010 on reorganising acute medicine services in hospitals.
Another consultancy, Lis Nixon Associates, was paid €38,051 for advising on the acute medicine programme and for diagnostic hospital visits and reports.
Other payouts included €28,448 to Ipsos MRBI for 'tobacco control compliance trackers-polls', while Kick Communications were paid €20,315 for an immunisation research project.
UK obstetrician Prof William Ledger was paid €18,634 for chairing the miscarriage misdiagnosis review, while other payments include €21,505 to UCC for a dental survey, €28,798 to Ransboro Consultancy for a review of contract beds and €14,679 to Nixon Consulting for advice on reconfiguration of hospital services.
Details of the payments, which included VAT, were released to irishhealth.com under FOI.
Over €750 million was cut from the HSE budget in 2011, leading to bed closures and other reductions in services, and similar sized cuts are being made this year.
In addition, the shedding of over 10,000 HSE staff numbers between 2008 and this year is having an effect on the provision of frontline care.
[Posted: Wed 14/03/2012]