Independent TD Mattie McGrath has accused the Minister for Health Simon Harris and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Pascal Donohue of gross irresponsibility with respect to the monitoring of costs associated with the proposed National Children’s Hospital at St James in Dublin. Deputy McGrath was speaking after Minister O Donohue confirmed to him for the first time that his own Department has yet to even begin a value for money analysis of a project which is to be expected to deliver the most expensive hospital constructed anywhere in the world:
“I find it absolutely infuriating that both ministers’ sat in the Dáil yesterday and admitted to me not only that a proposal has yet to be formulated on this issue by the Minister for Health, but also that no cost-benefit analysis has been undertaken by the very Department of Expenditure tasked with delivering well-managed and well-targeted public spending.
All the while the same Minister Harris is pleading with Cystic Fibrosis patients and their families to understand that the state cannot afford the vital life-saving drug Orkambi.
The contrast between the absence of a cost benefit analysis for the National Children’s Hospital and the almost forensic analysis carried out with respect to Orkambi is absolutely staggering.
I also find it deeply confusing as to how Minister Donohue can say he and Minister Harris are ‘committed to delivering’ the Children’s Hospital project at St James in the absence of any financial analysis.
Where is the responsibility, not only to the state’s finances, but also and more importantly to the children and families who are going to have to rely on this project for decades to come?
The very least one can say about the HSE is that it has admitted it cannot afford the National Children’s Hospital. This presupposes some kind of value for money analysis on its part which appears totally absent from the minister and department that ultimately are in charge of the purse strings.
What do the HSE know that the minister’s do not and why are we having such an awful time trying to obtain clarity on the sums of money involved?,” concluded Deputy McGrath.