Monday 23 October 2017

Groups seek legal advice as HSE drops projects

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Two private consortiums behind four hospital co-location projects abandoned by the Health Service Executive this week are seeking legal advice on the financial implications for them of the move.

The HSE decided not to grant any further extension of time to the project agreements it had with Beacon Medical Group (BMG) and Synchrony to build private hospitals on the public hospital sites.

The facilities which are shelved were due to be built on the sites of Cork University, Limerick Regional, St James's and Beaumont hospitals.

The groups have spent in the region of €50m between them in preparation for the proposed hospitals, all of which have planning permission and were supported by the last government.

Process

Asked if the State will now be liable for compensation, a spokesperson for the HSE insisted last night: "All HSE contracts follow due legal process and are considered to be inherently robust."

Neither Michael Cullen of the BMG or Fergal Mulchrone of the Sympony consortium would comment yesterday when contacted.

However, it is believed that -- having already been given several extensions -- both were seeking a further reprieve beyond this week's deadline.

But Health Minister James Reilly said the Programme for Government had already set out the Government's intention "that the existing private hospital co-location policy will come to an end".

The controversial plan was to build private hospitals on the sites of public hospitals in order to free up beds.

The bidders had been selected for six co-located hospital projects at Beaumont, CUH, Limerick Regional, St James's, Sligo and Waterford Regional hospitals.

BMG was due to build hospitals in Beaumont, CUH, Limerick Regional and St James's Hospitals. Synchrony Healthcare was the successful bidder to build the hospital in the St James's campus.

BMG has spent €30m on the projects and Synchrony is also believed to have invested heavily. Both had to lodge bonds of €20m and pay €350,000 each in non-refundable deposits.

Irish Independent

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