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The review by the Institute of Public Administration (IPA), commissioned by the IBTS, also found that feedback from interviews with IBTS board members suggested “some divergent perspectives” on the MAC’s performance.
“Some members have both positive and negative views,” stated the review, obtained by the Medical Independent under Freedom of Information legislation.
“For example, it was suggested that the committee struggles to provide clear, unambiguous advice on critical topics (the examples provided were the MSM [men who have sex with men] issue and Cork) but that it’s in ‘a better place’ now than previously. There was a sense of frustration with the MSM decision-making process but that it was resolved after a prolonged period.”
The review also noted: “As we understand it, the committee has traditionally sought to make decisions by consensus and this fact may hinder or slow its ability to provide timely advice… For others, the MAC is a good committee and grapples with significant issues. It is well-functioning and does a difficult job well. The lines of communication with the board are good.”
In January 2017, the IBTS removed the lifetime ban on blood donations from MSM. A man who last had sex with another man more than 12 months previously is now able to donate blood, if he meets the other blood donor selection criteria.
The IPA review team recommended that the board examine the MAC’s terms of reference in the near term. This should involve consideration of its composition, including appointing/co-opting two or three scientists. It should also look at decision-making processes, such as “providing for a simple or two-thirds majority”.
Meanwhile, some EMT members suggested the board “could be more challenging” in respect of executive functions, according to the review.
In January 2018, the IBTS commissioned the IPA to undertake an evaluation of the board’s effectiveness. The review cost €7,500 plus VAT.
There are no specific changes to the MAC’s role arising from the review, according to an IBTS spokesperson.