Ireland's health service works with EY on Covid-19 response

10 August 2021 2 min. read
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Ireland’s national health services organisation has tapped EY for additional support during the pandemic. The Big Four firm has worked on more than five projects over 2020.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) is the publicly funded healthcare system in Ireland, responsible for the provision of health and personal social services. Like many health organisations in the last 18 months, the HSE has come under acute pressure from the coronavirus crisis. As it looked to adapt to the huge demands of the global pandemic, the organisation turned to the consulting industry for help.

Winning the most work from the HSE, EY bagged €17.7 million in fees from the start of 2020 to March 2021. The group was brought onboard to advise the HSE on its initial response to the coronavirus, most notably regarding the expansion of contact tracing. EY would maintain a significant role in this facet of the HSE’s response in particular, with EY Executive Niamh O'Beirne becoming the national lead for the programme. In the UK, various top consulting firms similarly played a big role in the optimisation of the national contact tracing app. In Ireland however, it seems that EY took on the bulk of this work.

Ireland's health service works with EY on Covid-19 response

According to a freedom of information request published in the Irish press, EY received €1.96 million for its ‘Covid-19 Testing Process Optimisation Project’ across 2020, while it received a further €1 million in the first three months of 2021 for the consultancy group’s testing and tracing operational model, a cost of about €340,000 per month. An additional €294,000 was also paid by the HSE this year for a ‘Contact Tracing Centre Service Improvement Programme.’

After being questioned on the spending, HSE Chief Operations Officer Anne O’Connor said that the various consultancy firms which had been paid retainers over Covid-19 each had “significant prior experience and knowledge in particularly relevant areas within the HSE through existing service level agreements and ongoing projects and so, therefore, were positioned to quickly take up programmes of work at scale in response to the Covid-19 demands.”

In order to further plug that gap, EY was paid a further €12.4 million for Covid-19 support services, €5 million of that being spent in the first three months of 2021. Around €3.5 million of that figure went towards the HSE’s Integrated National Operations Hub (INOH), presided over by O’Connor. The entity managed the co-ordinated response to the virus between State services and external consultants operating under service level agreements via the Office for Government Procurement.

Meanwhile, EY was also paid €2.18 million to operate as the “relevant accountants” for the “Covid Private Hospitals Arrangement” between March and June of 2020. And more recently, close to €1.3 million was paid to EY for the service of its ‘One Government Centre’ data analytics tool, to advise on strategic decisions regarding the handling of the pandemic, while €885,000 was been spent on financial analysis of the HSE’s Winter and Pandemic plans.