Friday 24 November 2017

HSE hires outside help despite having full staff

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

THE HSE has hired a major accounting firm to provide information about its new voluntary redundancy scheme -- despite having 2,000 staff in its own human resources department.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is giving "information sessions" nationwide to HSE workers about the scheme, which is targeting 5,000 redundancies by the end of this year to cut the cost of the HSE's wage bill. But the HSE is facing questions as to why it hired PwC to do this work when it has 2,000 people working in its own human resources (HR) department -- which is one of the areas targeted for the redundancies.

Just last week, HSE head of human resources Sean McGrath said it was widely accepted that too many staff were employed in certain areas within the HSE.

''There are about 2,000 people working in the HR function. I could probably get away with having 700 or 800 in that department," he said then.

Fine Gael TD Bernard Allen, who is the chair of the Dail's Public Accounts Committee, said the hiring of a private company to do the work was "appalling".


"This use of consultants for something they should be able to do themselves is something that drives the public mad," he said.

PwC staff are carrying out information sessions for HSE staff interested in the voluntary redundancy scheme in 19 locations across the country.

PwC has also put together a briefing document on the scheme on behalf of the HSE and has created a "ready reckoner" which allows interested staff to calculate the value of their redundancy package.

Mr Allen said there was something wrong with the "mindset" of HSE management.

"It's infuriating in an exercise where they're shedding jobs, they're taking on external consultants to deal with it," he said.

The HSE said it had a "framework agreement" in place for consultancy services -- which allows it to hire companies like PwC without having to constantly go to public tender. In a statement, it said it was obliged to provide a range of information to help staff interested in the scheme "given the very tight timeframes involved".

"Experts (from) PwC have provided specialist advice in relation to tax for staff as part of these information sessions around the country," it said.

The HSE said it was not able to say how much PwC was being paid because the "assistance" from the firm was ongoing.

Around 8,600 HSE workers have so far made inquiries about the redundancy scheme.

Irish Independent

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