The HSE has come under fire from its own internal audit section for failing to follow strict rules in how multimillion-euro primary care centre deals are concluded.
A major report into the service has warned senior officials allowed centres to come on board between 2007 and 2010 despite the fact they did not have enough GPs involved, and in some cases applied after key competition deadlines had passed.
The document also noted that in a number of cases, there was no information on who evaluated the sites before the HSE agreed to acquire them.
And in a further cause for concern, the audit team findings — which could potential result in legal cases from unsuccessful primary care centre bidders — said there were “significant delays” from senior officials when it came to revealing what exactly happened.
The 73-page report was focussed on five unnamed centres in the HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster region.
*There were “significant inadequacies and deficiencies in the level and standard of documentation, files, and records maintained by the HSE” in relation to the deals. In particular, the reasoning for why some of the five sites were chosen — despite being too small and not having enough GPs — was not available in official files;
*There were “significant delays” when it came to audit team requests being met by HSE management;
*Some ultimately successful primary care centre submissions were made after the deadlines for applications had passed — resulting in potential competition rules implications;
*And there was “inconsistency” in terms of how primary care centre criteria was applied.
While no wrongdoing has been suggested, the audit could cause potential problems for the HSE should any unsuccessful primary care centres claim they were unfairly treated during the multimillion- euro bidding process.
The issue is also likely to raise further questions over why certain GP locations are chosen to become HSE primary care centres in other parts of the country.
In a response contained in the HSE audit report, management at HSE Dublin Mid-Leinster said they “acknowledged the inadequacy of the documentation and files”.
They said this was “due to a significant lack of administrative support available to the estates department”, and accepted stronger controls must be enforced in the future.
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