HSE to meet with gardaí on claims staff received gifts
Health chiefs are to arrange a meeting with gardaí to discuss allegations that hospital staff received gifts from a major hospital supplier.
A spokeswoman for the HSE yesterday confirmed that claims made against some staff in seven hospitals are still the subject of a Garda investigation.
However, she said since new allegations were made on the RTE 'Prime Time' programme last week, the HSE is trying to arrange a new meeting with gardaí to discuss how best to proceed in order not to compromise the investigation.
The programme alleged that some senior staff accepted gifts from the medical supplier Eurosurgical Ltd and that some staff also passed on commercial information.
Senior HSE executive Liam Woods is due to appear before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children today to be quizzed on what the HSE was told about the allegations last year and how it proceeded.
It was informed of seven hospitals last September. An internal audit of its own hospitals found no evidence of any wrongdoing, although the allegations were passed on to gardaí.
Since the television programme, St Vincent's Hospital has put two employees on leave without prejudice pending an investigation. It has also instigated its own investigation with a senior official from KPMG.
It said it first heard the allegations on 'Prime Time' and that it had not received any contact from gardaí.
Committee chair, Jerry Buttimer TD said: "The Health Committee has convened this special meeting in order to discuss potential breaches in hospital procurement practices in the light of allegations that hospital staff accepted holidays and gifts from a medical supplier.
"Committee members will wish to discuss significant concerns about non-compliance with procurement guidelines in the health service.
"Our committee will be keen to receive an update from the HSE and the Beacon hospital on this matter.
"It is important that we take steps to protect the integrity of the health service and ensure that all hospitals comply with procurement rules," he added.
Eurosurgical has said it has always behaved ethically and will co-operate fully.