€500,000 bed system bought by Mater without going to tender
The Mater public hospital in Dublin has confirmed that it bought a bed-management system for €500,000 without putting the purchase out to tender - but said doing so was not necessary because private funding was involved.
Questions about the purchase were raised at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children by Fianna Fáil TD Robert Troy, who said he had no evidence of wrongdoing but was bringing up the issue due to information he received from a citizen.
The hospital said: "The Mater hospital purchased the Immix Flow Bed Management system, following a rigorous assessment, for circa €500,000 from Aura Healthcare. It was purchased with private funding and as such was not subject to public procurement policy."
The committee convened a special meeting following allegations on the RTÉ 'Prime Time' programme that some senior staff in a number of public and private hospitals had received gifts from the Eurosurgical medical-supplies company.
The HSE's director of acute hospitals, Liam Woods, said allegations had first been made to gardaí by a whisteblower in June of last year. Allegations relating to five hospitals were later made to Health Minister Leo Varadkar in September by Labour TD Emmet Stagg.
One of the hospitals involved, St Vincent's Private Hospital, said it was never informed of the claims and only found out through the RTÉ programme last week.
Pressed on why the department or the HSE did not pass on the information to the hospital, Mr Woods, who had a different responsibility then, said he was surprised that St Vincent's Private Hospital was not told. The allegations are now being investigated internally by the HSE.
He added that audits of St Columcille's Hospital in Dublin and Mullingar Hospital, had identified deficiencies in procurement controls "but no evidence of wrongdoing".
Overall, hospitals had €6m of business with Eurosurgical last year.