PWC report confirms Children’s Hospital report will rise above €1.73bn
Labour Party Health spokesperson and Vice-Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee has said that the PWC report into the National Childrens’ Hospital vindicates predictions that costs of the project could rise up to €2 billion and serious lessons must be learned.
Deputy Kelly said:
“Back in January under my questioning the Department of Health were unable to confirm what the actual cost of the National Children’s Hospital would be and that we needed to wait for the PWC report. Today we have our answer in that costs will exceed €1.73 billion.
“Earlier this year I was told that I was exaggerating that costs would rise to this level, yet here we are, the PWC an independent auditor, has confirmed that once you factor in the costs of family accommodation, research centres, construction inflation and more, costs will continue to rise above €1.73 billion.
“PWC rightly criticise the lack of oversight by officials on the project. We know 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?
“The Government have serious lessons to learn when it comes to governance of large capital projects such as this one. There needs to be proper reporting structures in place that comply with Circular 2010/12 which sets out very clearly the rules around civil servants sitting on State boards. We know in the case of the National Children’s Hospital that the Chief Procurement Officer sat on the board that flagged issues with costs and he failed to bring this cost overrun to the Minister for Public Expenditure.
“The hands-off approach to this project by Government among the underestimation of costs of this project has led to the need for this report to be carried out. This report will need to be examined forensically by the Government and see what system checks they can put in place for all capital projects to ensure this does not happen again.
“There needs to be a culture change when it comes to capital projects, especially around health projects, those at the centre of decision making cannot be allowed to be more obsessed with PR spin rather than making sure checks and balances are in place to make sure projects are delivered.
“There now needs to be robust debate, whether at Committee or in the Dáil chamber itself on tendering and the lessons that can be learned.”