Health Service Executive paid consulting firm €2.2m in 2016

Company headed by Laura Magahy worked on diverse health service reform projects

The Health Service Executive paid more than €2.2 million to one company last year for consultancy on a wide range of projects on health service reform.

Records released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the company MCO Projects Ltd headed by Laura Magahy was paid €424,000 for work on the HSE's national communications reform programme, €235,000 for a community healthcare organisation programme and more than €173,000 on the children's hospital group programme.

It billed the health service for more than €621,000 for “general project management support” on the HSE’s Programme for Health Service Improvement.

Other projects for which it has provided support or consultancy services include a haemochromatosis model of care project (€52,890) and the National Ambulance Service’s Pre-Hospital Emergency Care (PHECC) programme (€100,368).


Some €181,548 was paid to the company for “project and change management training” and a further €84,870 was paid for “service-improvement team project management support”.

The consultancy group was also paid more than €129,000 for work on an integrated care programme for older persons.

Administrative staff

MCO has also billed nearly €13,000 for the provision of administrative staff, the records show.

It was also paid more than €22,000 for support services to help the HSE’s communications division move to a new building at Cornmarket in Dublin 8.

Various smaller projects bring the total to €2,201,655 for the year.

The company’s website says that for the last 25 years it has been working in the design and delivery of some of Ireland’s leading projects in sustainable design, enterprise, cultural clusters, healthcare and local area development.

The HSE said MCO Projects was one of a number of firms appointed to support the large number of programmes, projects and process improvements under the umbrella of the Programme for Health Service Improvement (PHSI).

Formerly called the Reform Programme, this was a large, “complex portfolio” of programmes and projects.

They ranged from designing new models of care through to reorganising services to deliver more patient-centred care, to enabling service improvements around e-health, finance reform, HR and “how we engage all staff in reform and improvement of the health services”.

The overall programme was a “substantial undertaking in improving public health services and requires significant change and project-management skills”.

“As the programme has been awaiting sanction to hire core staff to support the implementation of these changes, the HSE has been working with firms, procured through OGP (Office of Government Procurement) and HSE procurement frameworks, to commence the planning and early implementation work of the various programmes and projects.”

Recruitment campaign

In November, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform sanctioned the HSE to proceed with the initial core recruitment campaign.

“While this process of recruitment is in progress, MCO Projects, and the other firms involved, have been directly providing programme/project-management capacity and other associated skills such as change management, project communications, lean techniques, process improvement, business analysis, etc,” the HSE said.

“As part of the recruitment process, where appropriate, external candidates with strong industry experience in these areas will join existing health services staff on the programme teams to develop new fresh perspectives and benefit from their joint experience.”

The HSE said it was envisaged that the external service providers currently engaged would ensure continuity in the projects and “an appropriate knowledge transfer to the new teams being put in place”.

“A reduced reliance on external expertise is envisaged as the Programme for Health Service Improvement progresses over the coming years in order to provide support and best practice advice to the teams.”

Ms Magahy is a former director of Temple Bar Properties and former project manager of the Irish Film Institute. She also led the project to relocate Temple Street children’s hospital to the Mater hospital site.

After leaving Temple Bar in 2000, she won a lucrative contract to provide executive services for the ill-fated "Bertie Bowl" – named after former taoiseach Bertie Ahern – and Sports Campus Ireland at Abbotstown. Her consortium won a similar contract to develop the Digital Hub in Dublin's Liberties area.

Ms Magahy’s biography says her particular experience is “in charting and implementing strategic organisational change, with a particular expertise in healthcare”.