Reilly's new €164,000 external consultant
Health Minister James Reilly's Special Delivery Unit (SDU) has hired a second external consultant from the UK at a salary of around €160,000 to help it reduce waiting lists for hospital treatment, irishhealth.com has learned.
Lis Nixon, who has had a major involvement in change management and service improvement in the NHS and Canada, and who has also provided consultancy advice to the HSE, has recently been appointed Director of Performance Improvement for Unscheduled Care at the Department of Health.
The Department tendered for outside consultancy services for the SDU earlier this year. To date, the SDU, set up last summer, has had fairly limited success in reducing both treatment waiting lists and ED trolley waits.
The SDU has a budget of around €70 million and already employs 16 staff.
Already, the SDU employs Dr Martin Connor as Senior Adviser at a salary of €160,000 per annum. Dr Connor also spends some of his time working at Stanford University in the US. He is on a three-year contract with the Department of Health worth €480,000.
Ms Nixon is to be paid €164,000 per annum.
A spokesman for Minister Reilly told irishhealth.com, however, that Ms Nixon will be working full-time in her new position. He said she receives no other benefits and looks after her own pension arrangements. She will be paid travel and subsistence within Ireland.
Lis Nixon Associates, of which Ms Nixon is Director, were paid €38,000 by the HSE in the first half of last year for consultancy work on the acute medicine programme and for 'diagnostic visits and reports' at a number of hospitals, according to information provided to irishhealth.com under FOI.
Ms Nixon's biographical details describe her as an 'experienced clinical change management and service improvement consultant.'
The numbers currently on waiting lists for hospital treatment are around 60,000, roughly the same level as they were last July, when the SDU was set up. Some impact had recently been made on cutting the numbers of 12-month plus waiters, but the current number of these patients is higher than it was at the end of last year.
On trolley waits, while overall figures show a drop in daily trolley numbers, hospitals are still considerably behind targes for processing patients more quickly through emergency departments.
Latest figures also show that fewer patients were being treated within set targets in EDs in February compared to January.
The percentage of all ED attendees either treated and discharged or admitted within the set target of six hours of ED registration in February was 64.3%, compared to 65.2% in January.
The percentage of patients in February who needed admission who were admitted to a bed through EDs within the targeted nine hours of registration was 56.4%, compared to 58.7% in January.
The SDU has yet to tackle the issue of cutting the numbers waiting to see consultants in public outpatient clinics, which currently stands at around 200,000.
It was recently revealed that Minister Reilly paid €15,000 last year to a PR firm for public relations advice. This funding came out of his Ministerial allowance, and not his Department's budget.
[Posted: Wed 18/04/2012]