HSE spent €144m in non-compliant procurement in 2021

HSE spent €144m in non-compliant procurement in 2021

The HSE spent €42.5m ventilators which were not delivered or not suitable for use. File picture: AP /John Minchillo

The HSE’s annual report raises concerns about non-compliance with the HSE’s own procurement rules, finding non-compliance equal to €144m last year.

In general, costs related to Covid-19 dominate the report and financial statements, published on Tuesday, including an ongoing effort to recover €42.5m spent on ventilators which were not delivered or not suitable for use.

The Irish Examiner has highlighted the problems with these ventilators, and the HSE has now recovered €12.1m which has been reflected in the 2021 financial statements, published on Tuesday.

“All efforts are still being taken by the HSE to recover additional monies in this regard. The Comptroller and Auditor General team are currently working on a report on this matter,” the annual report states.

The HSE was mandated by Government to source PPE with an additional sanction of up to €450m.

“The cost price of PPE continued to be significantly higher due to ongoing worldwide demand, especially in the early stages of 2021 when additional purchases of PPE was made,” the report says.

By December last year, the HSE held €73m of unused PPE stock, having purchased €170m worth during the year.

The statements show an estimated €12.7m worth of unused PPE can be donated overseas.

However, concerns around procurement in general are centre, with the report noting the HSE does not have a single financial and procurement system nationally.

A self-assessment review of non-competitive spend of projects costing more than €20,000 for last year indicates that “excluding Covid-19 specific expenditure, the non-compliant rate is 16%, equating to €0.144bn” 

This review found: “The estimated total expenditure on invoices over €20,000 is in the order of €2.37bn (involving approximately 36,000 invoices) which is 56% of HSE procurable spend in 2021.” 

The returns indicate non-competitive procurement was in the region of 19% (€0.4bn) and noncompliant procurement was in the region of 9% (€0.186bn) overall, including Covid-projects.

The annual report also discloses “a non-cash adjustment of €71.4m” for a HSE region identified only as Region A. Following a review, “limited functionality” of the financial system in use in there was found and that staff changes meant no one knew who was responsible for certain required actions.

During the pandemic, HSE chief executive Paul Reid was mandated to make “necessary decisions are required within the all-Government and multi-agency approach” of managing the crisis.

The report states the reserved functions of the board were returned to them on September 24 last year. Board chair Ciaran Devane is paid €80,000 annually.

The HSE spent €7,005,340 on salaries across medical and administrative.

The report notes spending on health across capital and revenue has increased in Ireland from €13.4bn in 2013 to over €21bn for this year.

Up to 2020, it says this translated into an increase of 40% per person compared to a 51% average increase for people in other OECD countries.

The spiralling cost of the new Children’s Hospital is highlighted in red as in the Corporate Risk Register. Cybersecurity and the costs of improving the disability services are also in this section.

Since the pandemic began, funding for health has shot up, and the report says for 2021 the HSE received revenue funding from the Department of Health of €20.6bn which was an overall increase of €1.2bn (6%) over 2020.

Breaking down the delivery of care, the report notes despite constraints, almost 20.5 million home support hours were delivered last year.

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