The scale of the cost so far to the HSE battling Covid-19 is revealed in records showing payments by the executive of over €1.1bn to third parties since February.
Records released by the HSE in response to a Freedom of Information request show that payments for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) make up the bulk of the spend accounting for €773m of the outlay.
In response to a request seeking records of payments to third parties to mid-May, the HSE records show that one Hong Kong-headquartered company, China Resources Pharmaceutical has been paid €225.12m for PPE.
A further €311m was paid out by the HSE for ‘equipment’ to companies based here and overseas along with €16m paid out under the heading of ‘other’ and €6.4m paid for consumables.
The payments include €7.48m to Aer Lingus for transporting vital shipments of PPE here from China.
In all, the records show that 286 companies have shared the €1.1bn paid out.
The company to receive the third-highest payment from the HSE is secondary PPE supplier and Ennis-based project management company, EKO Integrated Services Ltd which has received €102.36m for PPE and equipment.
EKO Integrated Services Ltd received €93.5m for PPE and €8.7m for equipment.
As part of EKO Integrated Services Ltd’s work, it organised three planeloads of masks and gowns to be flown into Dublin in mid-April.
The vast bulk of the monies paid by the HSE to EKO Integrated Services Ltd would be forwarded onto the producer of the PPE in China and producer of the equipment.
Three other companies received payments of over €30m from the HSE for PPE - the records show that Lennox Laboratories Ltd received €35.5m; Arco Safety Ltd received €32.4m and PCH International Unlimited received €32.2m.
Companies to receive monies for PPE are sometimes secondary suppliers who pass on the bulk of the monies paid to the primary supplier but that is not specified in the information provided by the HSE FOI unit.
The records show that a further five firms were paid sums between €10m and €30m for the supply of PPE - Allphar Service Ltd was paid €28.66m; DGH Pharma Inc was paid €19m; Dutec Ltd was paid €17.16m; Mervue Laboratories was paid €12.7m and Medina Promotions Ltd was paid €11.54m.
A number of Irish companies have been prominent in providing medical equipment to the HSE in response to Covid-19.
The figures show that Naas company, Accuscience Ireland Ltd has received €48.4m for equipment while Co Wicklow company, Oxygen Care Ltd has received €20m for equipment.
Other companies to receive over €10m for selling equipment to the HSE include Canadian Pacific Global - €19.9m; Sisk Healthcare t/a Cardiac Se - €18.6m; Healthcare 21 Ltd - €15.3m; Roqu - €14.1m; Caremed Direct Ltd - €13.7m and Sensala Fze - €10.35m.
Chair of the Dáil Covid-19 committee, Deputy Michael McNamara (Ind) said today that the payments involved “are certainly a huge amount of money”.
He added: “But without knowing the exact detail and quantity of what was purchased, and more importantly the prices being paid for such items on the open market when there was such demand worldwide, it is not possible to determine whether it represents value for money.”
Social Democrat co-leader and member of the Dáil’s Covid-19 committee, Roisin Shortall said today: “The HSE was facing a crisis situation and extremely competitive market in securing PPE during the initial outbreak of Covid-19, and had no choice but to secure PPE where possible.
“That being said, Ireland is projected to spend another €1 billion on PPE over the next year, which is a staggering figure with enormous implications for both the health service budget and economy as a whole.
Deputy Shortall stated: “We should be looking at manufacturing PPE locally to develop domestic capacity, which will not only relieve financial pressure on our economy but also provide an opportunity to stimulate job creation and ensure a long-term sustainable supply chain.”
At a HSE press briefing in Dublin today, HSE CEO, Paul Reid stated that from the early days of Covid, the HSE had put a cost of €1.8bn on Covid-19 for the rest of 2020.
He stated: “Obviously, we haven’t spent anywhere near that to date.” Mr Reid stated that main drivers are the PPE, testing and tracing and staff costs.
Mr Reid said that PPE costs were driven by a number of factors including a massive premium price on international markets - multiples of what it would have been pre-Covid.
Mr Reid stated that the HSE is now distributing PPE on behalf of the State beyond HSE to wider healthcare.