Wednesday 21 March 2018

Public hospital used as 'security' for €190m

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

An investigation is under way into how a €190m private facility was funded using one of the country's major publicly funded hospitals as security with its bankers.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) is looking at how the private St Vincent's Hospital in Dublin was funded and whether the interests of the taxpayer were protected.

St Vincent's public hospital received €217m from the HSE to operate last year and it is on the same grounds as the 236-bed St Vincent's private hospital that caters mostly for insured patients.

The HSE said yesterday it became concerned after it learnt that the publicly funded hospital was used as a form of security to fund the development of the private hospital. It contacted the C&AG and "referred the issue for consideration by them".

A spokesman for the C&AG told the Irish Independent it was examining how the State protected its interest in properties that were funded from the public purse.

A spokesman for St Vincent's said the St Vincent's Healthcare Group (SVHG) controlled the buildings. He said the state-funded hospital did not sit on a "public" site. "The Sisters of Charity bought the land from the sale of the building on St Stephen's Green and used the proceeds to build the hospital, with limited state assistance. In turn, the hospital building (SVUH) has been used to treat public patients."

He said the SVHG, as a charity, had always sought to accommodate the HSE's requests.

Irish Independent

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