€1m paid to publicists for National Children’s Hospital

€1m paid to publicists for National Children’s Hospital

More than €1m has been paid to a communications company managing publicity for the National Children’s Hospital, it has emerged.

A further €176,630 is being spent on the rent of office space for the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) it has been revealed.

Details of the spending comes as the Oireachtas health committee was warned that construction inflation could add tens of millions of euro to the cost of the new children’s hospital which currently stands at €1.4bn.

NPHDB chair Fred Barry said some of the additional cost risk identified by accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) was likely to happen.

Separately, the NPHDB provided information to the Public Accounts Committee detailing the amount spent on publicity over four years.

In 2015, €204,509 was paid to communications company Q4PR. This increased to €274,567 in 2016,  €276,467 the following year, and €248,050 in 2018. 

The Dublin-based firm won the communications contract for the new hospital in April 2015, and this contract is due to continue until March 2021.

In a written response, the NPHDB has told the committee that offices at Herberton were rented out in June 2019 and the lease, which runs until 2023, costs €176,630 per annum.

They also provided details of the amount paid for the definitive business case which was produced by Ernst & Young.

In 2015, this company received €331,269 for its work. It was paid a further €246,845 in 2016, while €37,040 was paid in 2017, and last year the company was given €38,798 for its services.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly hit out at the Government for allowing private clinics in the new children’s hospital.

She said:

“There have been many scandals and debacles regarding the new children’s hospital, and the latest is the revelation that the hospital will include a number of private clinics for consultants to run outpatient clinics outside of their public commitments.”

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