The hospital declined to send a representative to yesterday’s meeting, saying they would do so after they had finished an internal investigation.
“I do not believe that their coming before this committee would in any way compromise their investigation,” said Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin.
“There is taxpayers’ money involved and I think that it is totally wrong for them to hide behind an internal investigation,” added Labour TD Joe Costello.
The criticism comes in the wake of an RTÉ Prime Time investigation which claimed senior members of hospital staff were in receipt of expensive holidays and gifts from a supplier, which is a breach of their terms of employment.
St Vincent’s confirmed it suspended two staff members, while medical supplies company Eurosurgical suspended a staff member, pending the outcome of an internal investigation. An employee of the Beacon Hospital in Dublin resigned his post this week.
Beacon CEO Michael Cullen told the health committee he was “shocked and disappointed” by the situation and said their internal investigation should be concluded within weeks.
“As with any relationship with a member of staff, and indeed a supplying company, there is an element of trust. And that trust is open to abuse at times and, although these are merely allegations, it suggests that this trust may have been misplaced,” he said. I do believe the procedures and policies are strong and robust. I don’t believe they are foolproof and therefore I am looking forward to receiving the recommendations from the forensic auditor to see how we can improve and prevent this type of activity from happening again.”
Liam Woods, national director of the Acute Hospital Division of the HSE, also appeared. He said the HSE should act with “great vigilance” to ensure these practises are not happening at a wider level. “Where there is collusion or alleged collusion... we need to learn from such incidents,” he said.
HSE payments to Eurosurgical have been suspended pending further investigations and a Garda Fraud Squad investigation is also being carried out.