Gifts probe - hospital workers suspended

Louise Kelly

Three hospital employees have been suspended amid allegations that some staff accepted expensive holidays and gifts from medical suppliers in breach of employment rules.

St Vincent's University Hospital has suspended two employees while the Beacon Hospital suspended the other.

St Vincent's said the employees would not return to duty until after it had completed an internal inquiry following an RTE Prime Time investigation that claimed some officials had approved orders for goods priced far above the cost charged by an existing supplier.

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

St Vincent's confirmed that two employees, who are on scheduled annual leave, are now off duty with pay and will not return to work while an investigation continues.

The three employees at both hospitals have been suspended "without prejudice".

HSE policy states that employees cannot receive benefits of any kind from a third party that might reasonably be seen to compromise their personal judgment or integrity.

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," it said in a statement.

"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."

Three individuals, who coordinate the buying of medical and other goods for St Vincent's Public Hospital and The Beacon Hospital, were the focus of last night's investigation.


The Beacon said this morning that it had strict procurement policies 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 Prime Time programme and an employee has been placed on leave," it said.

The report said the allegations made by a whistleblower regarding Eurosurgical Ltd were passed on to gardai more than a year ago. Health Minister Leo Varadkar and the HSE were also informed.

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