HEALTH chiefs have brought in strict new purchase procedures aimed at slashing the millions of euro spent every year on non-essential items, the Irish Independent has learned.
Even basic items now need senior management approval, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has confirmed. It follows several incidents in recent weeks where staff sought replacement electrical goods for hospitals in the HSE West area.
The strict new procedures follow criticism of how hospitals spent money in the past on furniture and white goods.
"The HSE's financial position is very challenging and significant efforts are being made to reduce expenditure in areas that do not impact on frontline services," said a HSE West spokeswoman.
"As part of an ongoing cost containment programme, all areas of expenditure are under constant review and we have processes in place to ensure that all expenditure is approved accordingly – these processes apply to all purchases whether a single item or a large supply order."
The spokeswoman said all requests for items needed approval of from area management offices.
"These include things such as stationery, crockery, furniture and hardware," she added.
The move has been welcomed – even by staff who had to wait two weeks for a new kettle.
"It's good to see they are watching every cent," one staff member told the Irish Independent.
However, a Donegal Fianna Fail county councillor said the added red tape was a step too far.
"I understand exactly where the HSE is coming from but buying a kettle shouldn't need all this paperwork."
He said the HSE should adopt the same purchasing system used by local authorities.
"The purchase card scheme works and reduces the need for additional work created by invoices."