Swift action needed on procurement claims
Published 18/07/2015 | 02:30
Rules surrounding procurement processes, be they public or private, are blindingly clear: kickbacks and unethical or illegal conduct have no place.
The decision by the Health Services Executive to suspend all payments to Eurosurgical (a medical supplies company that denies any wrongdoing) from all hospitals, underscores the gravity of allegations aired by RTÉ Prime Time's Investigations Unit.
Any financial impropriety constitutes a loss to taxpayers and to suppliers competing for business.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar has denied reports the HSE was aware of allegations that senior staff at two Dublin hospitals were receiving expensive holidays and gifts from a medical supplies company, in exchange for commercially sensitive information.
But the HSE must do more to instil public confidence in its procurement and tendering processes. The scale of its purchasing power was laid bare this week when it was revealed that some €56.5m of contracts were awarded by the HSE last year without a competitive tendering process, compared to €17.8m in 2013.
Gardaí and the HSE must move swiftly to ensure that the wider procurement system is not rife with abuses.