Independent Senator John Crown has accused St Vincent’s Hospital group of spending “tens of thousands” of euro in public funds to cover-up “financial fraud”.
He was speaking in the Seanad for the second day in a row about how the VHI was wrongly billed €1m by St Vincent’s private hospital for drugs that had been provided for free as part of a breast cancer trial.
Professor Crown, who is a consultant oncologist in St Vincent’s, told the Seanad that a large amount of public money – probably tens or hundreds of thousands of euro- was spent by a body in pursuit of a cover up of financial fraud.
“And of course this was in St Vincent’s hospital group ten years ago, when a large amount of public money was spent trying to defend the absurd contention that the hospital wasn’t aware that a very large research programme existed, as it was the only way they could justify a very substantial and deliberate misspending, misbilling, of money from the voluntary health insurers,” he said.
Professor Crown went on to tell the Seanad that St Vincent’s hospital group had spent “many tens of thousands of public money in pursuit of this cover-up”.
The drugs were supplied to St Vincent's private hospital free of charge by pharmaceutical companies to women who were undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the hospital at the time. The VHI has confirmed it was informed of the wrongful billing by a patient and by Professor Crown.
Professor Crown was speaking during the Seanad’s consideration of the Local Government bill, which will abolish 80 town councils.
He complained that there had been no councillors on the board of St Vincent’s hospital group. Professor Crown’s remarks are protected by parliamentary privilege.