Two separate reviews into why Tallaght Hospital spent millions of euro on non-tendered external consultancy work and ‘top-up’ payments for high-ranking staff are under way.
The new interim Tallaght board and the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) said the matters are being examined in the aftermath of Thursday’s investigation into the failure of patients by the crisis-hit hospital.
The first investigation is focusing on the decision to pay external consultancy firms €1.8m in 2010, the same year as the hospital faced a €5.8m deficit.
The Hiqa report noted it is unclear whether these deals followed any public procurement rules, including guarantees that any consultancy contract over €60,000 must be tendered for and must provide an initial cost expectation.
It is understood the HSE refused to pay for these contracts, meaning the hospital had to find additional funds itself.
Of the €1.8m total, €1.6m was paid for help on how to improve hospital governance.
This contract — believed to have been given to Price WaterhouseCoopers for work carried out in 2009 — was awarded without tendering, prior board approval, or an initial cost estimate.
The remaining €200,000 was spent on auditing services.
Tallaght Hospital’s interim board has admitted its own concerns over the matter and has commissioned an independent expert report to examine what happened.
It said “once due process has been completed and advice sought on what action should be taken the report will be shared” with the Comptroller and Auditor General, the HSE, and Hiqa.
Separately, an internal hospital review is also taking place into why high-ranking officials received significant top-up payments worth a combined €739,000 between 2005 and 2010. In one case, a worker — whose name and position have not been released for legal reasons — received €150,000 as part of the additional payroll scheme.
Meanwhile, Health Minister James Reilly has warned hospital managers across Ireland they will be hauled into his office if they keep failing to meet set Government targets on patient care.
His comments were echoed by Hiqa chief executive Tracey Cooper, who said hospital managers who are not up to the job should either be re-trained or, if necessary, removed.
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