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Bin Laden's death added to cost of HSE staff search

THE killing of Osama bin Laden during a €100,000 Health Service Executive recruitment drive to Pakistan and India forced the Irish team to choose hotels with high security.

The al-Qa'ida leader was shot dead by US Navy SEALS on May 2 during a raid on a private residential compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan.

After the raid, US special forces took bin Laden's body to Afghanistan for identification, then buried it at sea within 24 hours of his death.

That, and other events helped dictate that the HSE team stayed in hotels with good security, the HSE said.

"In Pakistan, security concerns were paramount and the choice of hotel was driven entirely by the need to ensure the security of HSE employees," it said, adding that events during the trip raised the level of risk.

The HSE recruiters spent more than €100,000 to sign up 270 medics on the trip to India and Pakistan.

The team of 36 consultants, management and administrative staff spent €113,768 during their 10-day visit in early May.

This included:

•€37,866 on flights,

•€9,913 on meals,

•€21,008 on hiring meeting rooms and business centres,

•€44,913 on accommodation and transfers.

The HSE paid economy rates for the flights, while "consultants who wished to travel business class (were) required to meet the additional cost themselves".

While it paid the accommodation costs, "the choice of accommodation was determined by a number of factors including security, access to a business centre and room availability," the HSE added.

The cost of the trip was revealed in a Freedom of Information request by the Medical Independent.

The HSE's initial adverts in India and Pakistan attracted replies from around 4,000 applicants interested in working in Ireland.

In Pakistan, 314 doctors were interviewed and 276 follow-up meetings were held over 10 days. In India, 233 interviews took place and 190 follow-up meetings took place in Mumbai during the same period.

Of those who applied, 270 candidates have been proposed for registration on the new "supervised division of the medical register".

The HSE expects that the new doctors will be able to start work in the coming weeks.