Procurement practices need to be investigated across the board – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin TD and Health Spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has commented on the RTÉ Investigations Unit discovery that senior hospital staff in Dublin’s St Vincent's University Hospital had received extravagant ‘gifts’ from a supplier, not allowed by the rules governing their employment.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“The allegations contained in this programme are very serious indeed and must be fully investigated by the Gardaí. The programme also suggested that some of those tasked with purchasing supplies gave commercially sensitive information to one company.
“I understand that St Vincent's University Hospital has set up an internal investigation team and that employees are currently off duty.
“Minister Varadkar has stated that the HSE has ‘conducted an internal audit of its hospitals’. Can the Minister give further detail on this? How many hospitals are being audited in this manner? How does the Minister propose to reassure the public that these practices are not happening elsewhere?
“Where there are large sums being spent for services or supplies, there is always a very real threat of corruption and bribery. When individuals are tasked with procuring services or supplies for our public hospitals we cannot have the possibility of not getting the best deal for our struggling health services. Examples were given of cases which, if correct, would represent truly terrible deals for the taxpayer including a jump from €0.70 to €6.95 for surgical drapes.
“The Minister must make an assessment of procurement practices across the board, what needs to change and he must reassure the public that practices alleged to be occurring in SVUH are not tolerated elsewhere.”