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The overall expenditure on speaker fees was released following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the Medical Independent (MI). The HSE said not all speakers received a fee and it was withholding details of individual fees on grounds of “commercially sensitive information” and “personal information”.
The Executive also refused to release the fee paid to Morrow Communications, which won the contract to manage the event. This was on the grounds of “commercially sensitive information”.
The HSE describes the Masterclass as a “key calendar event for senior managers and leaders across the Irish health system and wider business community” to learn and be inspired by “acclaimed speakers in the area of health services leadership and improvement”. The event is held under the auspices of the Office of the Director General. Speakers at the 2018 Masterclass included the then Director General Mr Tony O’Brien; Minister for Health Simon Harris; Prof Mary Dixon-Woods, RAND Professor of Health Services Research, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge, UK; and broadcaster, researcher and mentalist Mr David Meade, among others.
Some 832 delegates attended the 2018 Masterclass, which was held in April at The Helix, Dublin City University.
According to the HSE, Morrow Communications sourced sponsorship “across a wide spectrum of markets, with the objective of making the event cost-neutral to the organisation”.
Revenue of €82,283 (excluding VAT) was generated through sponsorship, exhibitors and ticket sales.
“The HSE has yet to receive the final budget detailing the overall cost of running the 2018 Healthcare Leadership Masterclass from our event management partners Morrow Communications,” according to the FoI response.
The Masterclass has attracted controversy in the past. In 2014, The Irish Times reported that the HSE was paying a Harvard professor $70,000 (€50,489) to deliver sessions across two days of the Masterclass.
Last year’s event in Dublin’s Convention Centre cost €169,403 to run, while income amounted to €136,518, inclusive of VAT. Costs for the chair and speakers in 2017 came to €21,029 and not all speakers received a fee.