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€1.5m paid to 'waiting-list cuts' experts

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Heath Minister Dr.James Reilly,TD  speaking  at  the media briefing  at Government Buildings  following the publication of  The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 . Pic Tom Burke 1/5/13

Heath Minister Dr.James Reilly,TD speaking at the media briefing at Government Buildings following the publication of The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 . Pic Tom Burke 1/5/13

Heath Minister Dr.James Reilly,TD speaking at the media briefing at Government Buildings following the publication of The Protection of Life during Pregnancy Bill 2013 . Pic Tom Burke 1/5/13

HEALTH Minister James Reilly has spent nearly €1.5m on experts to tell him how to reduce hospital waiting lists.

Despite this, the numbers have doubled since the beginning of the year. The experts are employed to advise on cutting the number of patients waiting for hospital appointments and those on emergency trolleys in hospitals.

Appointment waiting lists, however, have almost doubled since the start of the year to 380,000 and yesterday alone there were 242 patients on trolleys – 36 in Beaumont Hospital, 25 in Connolly Hospital, 17 in Tallaght and 16 in the Mater.

Dr Martin Connor, senior policy adviser to the Minister's Special Delivery Unit, which was set up to tackle waiting lists, has been paid a total of €544,520 since his appointment in 2011.

In addition, PA consulting has been paid €429,241 for expert advice on cutting treatment waiting lists and UK expert Lis Nixon, who is in charge of improving performance in unscheduled care, has so far been paid €253,166 from the Department of Health.

She has a yearly salary of €164,000 under a three-year contract until the end of 2014.

Other experts include the Centre for Diagnostic Management, which has been paid €222,376 for waiting list advice, while Dr Hubert Curran has been paid €10,008.

Repositioning

The Northern Ireland Southern Health and Social Care trust has received fees of €4,998 for advice on the same issue.

The figures were given in response to questions by Fianna Fail Health spokesman Billy Kelleher.

British expert Dr Martin Connor, who was appointed by Dr Reilly, is to step down after the summer, more than a year earlier than set out in his contract.

Dr Connor's company, Value Based Solutions, was paid €250,000 by the Department of Health for a six-month contract between June and November 2011. It was then engaged on a subsequent three-year contract worth €400,000.

It is understood that Dr Connor's departure will coincide with a "repositioning" of the Special Delivery Unit which will no longer be a standalone operation in the future.

The SDU will be expected to report to the new acute hospital directorate in the HSE, which will be headed by former chief executive of St James's Hospital, Ian Carter.

The SDU had managed to cut waiting lists and the numbers on trolleys last year but this year the numbers increased.

The Department of Health has announced a new "intervention strategy" with a special fund of €18m. Government sources said it was confident its waiting list targets for the year would be met.

csheehy@herald.ie


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