The HSE has been accused of making “eejits” out of members of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), after it sought to convince them that there was no conflict of interest in the role of consultancy firm, PwC, carrying out a review into the huge cost overruns at the National Children’s Hospital.
Last November, PwC was involved in the decision by the HSE to allow construction company, BAM, to proceed with the project, even when costs had spiralled €450m.
In January, PwC was commissioned by the Government to carry out a review into the cost-escalation, for a fee of €500,000.
That, in itself, was a highly questionable decision, but it now emerges that the same personnel from PwC who had provided advice to the HSE in November, on its decision to proceed with the project, were involved in the review into cost overruns.
The HSE’s justification for using the same personnel is on a Monty Python scale. “Their expertise in large-scale healthcare construction projects was highly relevant in both instances,” it said.
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy put it well when she said: “The people were essentially being asked if they agreed with themselves.”
But Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry put it best, declaring: “At the end of the day, we can’t have the contestants judging the beauty pageant.”