THE Health Service Executive (HSE) is spending €27 million a year on rented property — an average of €2.3m a month.
Over the past three years, rentals in respect of land and buildings were €30.284m for 2005, €27.526m for 2006, and €27.631m for last year.
The figures, disclosed under Freedom of Information, come when premises owned by the HSE, and due to be sold, remain idle around the country.
Jan O’Sullivan, Labour’s health spokeswoman, said it was a very large sum of money, especially at a time when there are so many cutbacks.
“This would seem to represent a lot of manpower which could be dedicated to other more worthwhile areas. The money is disappearing and there is no long-term benefit from it,” she said.
“There should be an audit done in respect of all the buildings the HSE owns but is not using. Perhaps some of these properties can be used instead of renting.”
Dr Siobhán Barry, consultant psychiatrist and a clinical director at St John of God’s, said renting at that level seemed extraordinarily wasteful when it is well known the HSE have unused premises through out the country.
In January of this year, a report, co-authored by Dr Barry, highlighted a situation where in the case of mental hospital properties, in many instances lands were sold at what seemed to be much below their commercial value.
The report revealed how, in some cases, the buildings and lands have been altered for usage as private car parks or pitch and putt courses. In other situations, lands appeared to have been given away or loaned out without any rent sought.
It was also revealed the HSE raised just over €8.4m from the sale of properties between 2005 and 2007, with this money still being held by the Exchequer. “As far am I aware, the money has not yet been used,” said Dr Barry.
Also requested under the FoI disclosure, was a list of the HSE’s rental property — and from whom it was renting.
A spreadsheet with more than 400 landlords was returned, however large areas of the country are not accounted for. According to the HSE, only some names were available, as the information is not held at a central point.
“Work on the central database commenced in June 2008 and is ongoing,” said the response.
“The information is currently being gathered from each local area and is not fully complete.”
A spokesman for the HSE said that over the longer term, the HSE expects that it shall substantially reduce the amount of rental property it requires.
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