HSE calls in gardai as €2.3m missing from training funds
GARDAI are to quiz SIPTU officials over €2.35m which has gone 'missing' from training scheme funds for lower-skilled health workers.
The Health Service Executive (HSE) has referred the matter of the mystery millions to gardai after its own internal audit of the SKILL training scheme uncovered questions over foreign trips, meals and taxi journeys clocked up over five years.
It is believed the audit of the administrative expenditure of the €60m scheme, which ran from 2002, found that around €2.35m was spent without proper back-up documentation.
The Irish Independent learned last night that two further audits are also now under way into the training scheme -- including an examination of the costs of replacing workers in training and also issues around procurement.
A spokesman for SIPTU yesterday said that it did not receive any of the funds, and will be writing to the chairman of the HSE, Liam Downey, to seek urgent clarification.
The training scheme was aimed at providing more skills training for rank-and-file health service workers, like hospital porters, and was originally run by the Midland Health Board.
HSE director of communications Paul Connors confirmed last night that the findings of the audit, which was completed last year, have now been sent to gardai for further investigation.
He revealed the audit report was presented to the board of the HSE last month and, arising from a number of issues of concern, it was "referred to gardai".
Mr Downey said the payments of more than €2m were paid to "one organisation" between 2002 and 2009 which were "not accompanied by supporting documentation".
All payments have been stopped since November last year.
The funds which were accounted for in the audit were routed through a steering group. Chairman of the group, former SIPTU boss Billy Attley, said he had been told by the HSE that minor technicalities in the SKILL accounts had been sorted out.
He said no foreign travel had been authorised by any member of the steering group.