Saturday 25 January 2020

Department of Health's €110,000 bill for Oxford training trips

Gordon Deegan

The cash-strapped Department of Health has come under fire after it emerged that it has spent over €110,000 sending officials on an exclusive training course on negotiation techniques at one of the world's most prestigious universities.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the department yesterday confirmed that it has spent €111,022 sending officials to attend the Oxford Programme on Negotiation at the Said School of Business at Oxford University since 2006.

The department is sending three officials to attend the five- day course next month.

The cost of sending the three to the course totals €22,282 this year and this follows a spend of €32,977 sending four officials on the course last year.

A brochure for the course states that participants will be better equipped to develop and use the five skills of negotiation: information gathering; decision making; persuasion; innovative thinking; and implementation/enforcement.

ACADEMICS

The course takes place in the Said Business School with participants being accommodated in one of Oxford's top hotels.

The brochure states that "the programme structure is a mix of interactive lectures, discussions, case studies, role-play, simulations and informal seminars, all led by world-class academics and practitioners".

The course runs for one week in July and one week in September each year.

A spokesman for the department said yesterday: "Senior managers from the department who have participated in the programme are positioned in a range of areas where these skills are used as part of their day-to-day work."

However, assistant general secretary with IMPACT, Andy Pike, said yesterday: "This smacks of high-level officials looking after themselves very well by going on a junket to Oxford, where I'm sure courses in Ireland would more than serve their needs."

Irish Independent

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