Senior Health Officials can’t confirm Children’s Hospital spend will not exceed €2bn
Following his questioning at today’s meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, Labour Party Health spokesperson and Vice-Chair of the PAC, Alan Kelly TD, has expressed concern that top officials in the Department of Health not being able to confirm if costs of the National Children’s Hospital.
Deputy Kelly said:
“It is extremely worrying that the top official in the Department of Health, Mr Jim Breslin, was unable to confirm to me that projected costs for the National Children’s Hospital won’t exceed €2 billion.
“It is absolutely inexcusable at this stage in the building process that nobody can answer the question as to how much this project will cost. The Department of Health confirmed to me at the Public Accounts Committee that they are now running their projected costs study in parallel with the report being carried out by PWC into what the final cost will be.
“It’s hard to understand why the Government have now commissioned their own internal study, they should just let PWC get on with the job, rather than introduce make-work schemes for the Department of Health, who clearly haven’t handled this project well since the beginning.
“The public don’t believe or trust that the State can produce projects of this scale and judging by some of the facts that became known at today’s PAC meeting, they would be right to feel this way.
“Today it was confirmed to me that despite the cost and scale of the project that no official from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform sat on the Children’s Hospital Project & Programme Steering Group. This was a huge mistake on behalf of the Government. How can it be that a project of this size didn’t have a representative of the Department that oversees public funding on their spending oversight committee?
“It seems that the timelines around cost concerns go back a lot further than was previously in the public domain. Through my analysis of minutes of the Children’s Hospital Project & Programme Steering Group, it seems that concerns at cost overruns of €61 million were first established at a meeting of in August 2017.
“How can it be that the overrun in costs doubled from August 2017 to August 2018 when Minister Harris was first informed of the overruns?
“The handling of dealing with these overruns has been absolutely shambolic and the fact that we are still none the wiser as to if the costs will reach the €2 billion mark is embarrassing, especially when we are in the middle of a nursing strike where workers are being told that taxpayers won’t thank them if they get a wage increase. The taxpayers are the ones being taken for a fool when it comes to the cost of this project.”