Sunday 21 April 2019

Children's hospital board refuses to release report into rising costs

Construction warning: HSE official Dean Sullivan
Construction warning: HSE official Dean Sullivan
Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

The board leading the development of the new National Children's Hospital has refused to release an internal report into the cost escalation.

The National Paediatric Hospital Development Board (NPHDB) rejected a Freedom of Information request by the Irish Independent for the report, citing "commercial sensitivities".

It also refused to release correspondence related to the report.

An internal report by the board, called 'Process to Guaranteed Maximum Price', was compiled when the escalation of the hospital's construction costs became apparent.

The report was discussed at a meeting of another board involved in the construction of the landmark health facility on November 16.

Notes of that meeting report that there was a "detailed discussion on the GMP process as set out (in the report)".

Dean Sullivan, a HSE official who took part by phone, noted the report "which explains reasons for increase in costs, sets out options for action and makes clear the contractual/financial risk of not instructing (the next phase of works by December 3)".

However, a request for the report was refused by the hospital board, despite dozens of documents - including Government memos - being released since concerns erupted over the cost of the project.

Meanwhile, an external report into the hospital overspend is being conducted by consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). It will analyse the massive jump in the bill for the hospital, in which the construction price has risen by €450m since April 2017.

It is also expected to assess the risks the expense of the project will rise further - beyond the €1.4bn it is currently expected to cost.

The expert report was due to be delivered to Government on March 29.

However, that report will now not be completed until April, Health Minister Simon Harris has confirmed.

"The NPHDB is participating fully with the PwC review and has no further comment to make at this time," said a spokeswoman for the NPHDB.

Irish Independent

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