Health department under fire over €110k training spend

The cash-strapped Department of Health has come under fire for spending €110,000 sending officials to an exclusive training course on negotiation at one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Department of Health yesterday said 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 totals €22,282 this year and this follows a spend of €32,977 sending four officials on the course last year

The course fee this year is £6,750 (€7,883) per head, with accommodation costing an additional £620.

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.

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

A spokesman for the Department of Health 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: “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.”

Mr Pike, who has negotiated with health officials on industrial relations issues, added: “I think it strange that the department would continue to use this course where there are less expensive courses available here.

“I fail to see the benefit of taking part in this course in Oxford as I don’t believe that this course can offer anything that is not available in Ireland.”

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