Tuesday 23 May 2017

Revealed: How much HSE will pay speakers at annual masterclass conference

Health Minister Simon Harris Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Health Minister Simon Harris Photo: Colin O'Riordan
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The HSE is to pay speakers at its annual masterclass conference up to €11,500 to address the high-powered business gathering.

It comes as a row erupted over the HSE's decision to offer sponsors of the management conference "guaranteed face time" with some of its top buyers of services.

The posting, which appeared on the HSE website and was later taken down, raised serious concerns about conflicts of interest and value for money.

It raises fears sponsors will be favoured when it comes to awarding lucrative contracts.

The Department of Public Expenditure yesterday stressed that procurement rules must ensure the process is "open and non-discriminatory" and deliver the "best value for money".

It was a key area that required special attention to ensures good corporate governance, a spokesman said.

Health Minister Simon Harris, who is due to speak at the conference in the Convention centre next month, appeared to distance himself from the HSE's actions, although he will go ahead with his address.

Services

A spokesman for the Department of Health said it was not involved in organising the conference. He said the department expected the HSE to follow codes of governance to avoid conflicts of interest.

Read more: HSE offered conference sponsors 'facetime' with its leading buyers

The HSE, which spends hundreds of millions of euro annually on buying services, admitted the posting should not have been made. But it claimed it was following normal policies and procedures in organising the event.

The masterclass, with the theme 'Building a Better Health Service', to be held over two days, is in its fourth year and is organised by the office of the director general Tony O'Brien.

It has a line-up of international speakers including former Connacht rugby coach Pat Lam.

The HSE yesterday declined to say how much it would cost but in previous years it has amounted to around €150,000 to €200,000 amid controversy over payments of around €50,000 to some speakers.

A spokeswoman said the sponsorship was being looked for to make the event "cost neutral".

The maximum fee for speakers would be about €11,500, she added. It aims to attract 800 attendees from across the health service, charities and business.

People attending from commercial organisations will pay €695 for a ticket and for charities and organisations funded by the Government it will be €395 per person.

Irish Independent

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