Saturday 19 January 2019

Hospice paid €119k in training fees to company with connections to former chief executive

Audit also questions some credit card expenditure over five years on entertainment, including wine, restaurants and the pub

Rehab chief executive Mo Flynn
Rehab chief executive Mo Flynn
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Our Lady’s Hospice in Harold’s Cross in Dublin paid €119,000 in training fees to a company with connections to the then chief executive Mo Flynn, according to a HSE audit.

Ms Flynn, who is now chief executive of Rehab, has rejected any role in the contract and said she absented herself at the time the firm was chosen.

The audit also questions some credit card expenditure over five years on entertainment, including wine, restaurants and the pub.

In response a statement from the hospice said it acknowledged the review “showed that there was room for improvement in processes and management have fully taken this on board.”

It said: ”The training provider was selected by the senior management as it had experience working in the sector.

While the chief executive “absented herself from the procurement it agreed that aspects of the process and her abstention should have been recorded more clearly to show its methodologies.

“New practices have been put in places since this time as the organisation has continued to grow and develop. The service received was judged to be effective and professional.”

The audit also questioned credit card expenditure over five years of around €34,896.

The credit card records show that over five years €4,061 was spent on wine, €3015 on restaurants, €1,216 in pubs and €680 on the theatre.

Ms Flynn said while the audit notes the spending related to wine gift boxes bought for the board of directors each Christmas/New Year, it failed to point out this was an annual gift to people who are voluntary directors.

Hence, the wine gift boxes were an expense incurred by the Hospice to reflect the “incredible efforts” of, amongst others, its volunteers, she said.

The “pub” expenditure reflected in the credit card relates to a “Light Up A Life” annual commemoration, following which the Hospice volunteers were hosted in a local public house as a small gesture towards their volunteer work.

This is the only occasion where a credit card has been used in a “pub”, she added.

In the same vein, expenditure in relation to “restaurant” was incurred in respect of work-related events.

For example, a retirement dinner for a long serving volunteer, an annual pre-conference dinner for speakers and dinners for visiting external advisors in relation to a new educational institute concerning palliative care.

She said the theatre expenditure - which was a “one off” expenditure of €608.00 in 2011 - related to a Christmas pantomime to which staff and their children were invited.

In response to the audit chief Executive Officer of OLH & CS Audrey Houlihan, said:“Our primary and foremost concern at all times is the needs and care of our residents, patients and their families. I want to reassure all our supporters that we have taken the matters raised in the audits very seriously and are committed to continuous and on-going improvement.

“While the majority of the audits’ recommendations focus on historical matters during 2006 - 2015, we have worked systematically though the findings. They have demonstrated that the financial controls in place at that time were not sufficiently comprehensive. For that, the board and management offers an unreserved apology. Our current management and board of directors have fully taken this on-board and acted immediately to enhance our financial procedures to ensure best practice.

“Our Lady’s Hospice and Care Services took decisive action and implemented a robust range of new financial management processes and policies. 100pc of the recommendations in the Audits have been implemented. The high priority recommendations were immediately addressed and some were complete before the report was finalised.

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