Thursday 14 December 2017

Inquiries launched into allegations Dublin hospital staff accepted gifts from medical suppliers

St Vincent's University Hospital
St Vincent's University Hospital
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Two Dublin hospitals are investigating allegations that some senior staff members accepted expensive holidays and gifts from medical suppliers in breach of their employment rules.

St Vincent's University Hospital confirmed it had suspended without prejudice two employees following a Prime Time investigation that they had approved orders for goods priced far above the cost charged by an existing supplier.

The Dublin hospital said the employees would not return to duty until after it had completed an internal inquiry.

In a statement, the hospital said it had taken allegations made by the programme "very seriously". 

St Vincent’s said it had “set up an internal investigation team, to be chaired by an external forensic specialist, to examine the allegations notified to the hospital."

“The hospital has also decided to put two employees off duty with pay, and with immediate effect.

“This means that the two persons concerned, who are both currently on scheduled annual leave, will not be returning to duty while the investigation is under way."

The Beacon Hospital in Dublin
The Beacon Hospital in Dublin

A spokesperson for the Beacon Hospital confirmed his morning that it too had also suspended without prejudice an employee pending the outcome of an internal investigation following the report.

In a statement, the hospital said: "Beacon Hospital has strict procurement policies and procedures in place. Any alleged breach of these policies is taken extremely seriously.

"Beacon Hospital is carrying out an internal investigation into the allegations made in the Primetime programme and an employee has been placed on leave until further notice."

Information obtained by RTÉ revealed that some staff passed on commercially sensitive information to a medical supplies company, which included competitors price lists.

Three individuals, who coordinate the purchasing of medical and other goods for St Vincent’s Public Hospital and The Beacon Hospital, were the focus of a Prime Time investigation last night.

Health Service Executive policy states employees can not receive benefits of any kind from a third party which might reasonably be seen to compromise their personal judgement or integrity.

The report stated that the allegations made by a whistleblower regarding Eurosurgical Ltd were passed on to Gardaí more than a year ago.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and the HSE were also informed, it added.

The HSE has suspended payments for any goods or services supplied by Eurosurgical until further notice.

In a statement, it added that both the Beacon and St Vincent's are not part of the HSE.

“The Beacon is a private hospital and St Vincent’s is a privately owned institution with its own board of management.

“None of the individuals featured on Prime Time last night are HSE or Department of Health employees," the HSE said.

IMSTA, the organisation representing 90pc of Medical Device Supply Industry in Ireland says it is concerned about the alleged corruption.

"The Code precludes our member companies from providing any incentive, financial or otherwise, to procurement officers in any hospital," Justin Carty, CEO of IMSTA, said.

"All IMSTA members now adhere to the Code and agree annually to abide by it when they renew their membership of the association. For Medical Device Supply Industry the integrity of their relationships with healthcare professionals is of paramount importance."

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