Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Public Accounts Committee

Business of Committee

9:00 am

Photo of Seán FlemingSeán Fleming (Laois, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

That is No. 1528. The next correspondence is No. 1530, a follow-up from Mr. Ray Mitchell. We note and publish that.

I refer back to No. 1528, attached to which is a letter dated 24 August 2018 in response to Committee of Public Accounts correspondence No. 1014 with the Department of Health seeking information following the appearance at the committee on 12 July 2018. It deals with a note on the expansion to 7-7 for general adult mental health services, a note on the cost of hiring private investigators, the process and safeguards in place on consultant-compliance contracts. Members might be interested in this. They have asked about the cost of hiring the private investigators and it states on page 2 of that letter that surveillance was a proportionate exercise and not indiscriminate, that three of the lead cases were ultimately the subject of surveillance and that the HSE advised that the cost was €117,853. I am just putting that on the public record as people were interested in the cost.

We also asked for a note on the reasons for the non-disclosure of information in the accounts under No. 62 in respect of legal costs. As a result of our letter and following consideration in the finalisation of the 2017 appropriation accounts in conjunction with the Comptroller and Auditor General in the context of the raising of the matter at the committee, the Department is now in a position to report in accordance with the relevant circular. It was not publishing legal costs. In the Department of Health in 2017, there were 70 cases totalling €5.699 million and the total in the previous year was €14.655 million for 138 cases. That is in the accounts for 2017. Following us pointing out the Government circular at the committee, information which was not clearly available is now there.

We asked for an explanatory note on the three different schemes available for treatment abroad and people will find that helpful. There is also reference to the European health insurance card and the cross-border directive. The public are a bit confused regarding the cross-border directive. We will recirculate it. I do not have the reference in front of me, but it was dated 24 August 2018 in reference to our correspondence No. 1014 or 1528, I am not sure. It is good to separate the issues as people are confused between the cross-border directive and the treatment abroad scheme. Table 6 is an up-to-date note on the national children's hospital funding and a review of the money owed by insurance companies, which I touched on earlier. We note and publish that.

The next correspondence, No. 1538, is also from the HSE. This is a short letter with a large appendix comprising hundreds of pages. It is a copy of the records relating to the quality assurance visits, to include minutes of discussions and final reports submitted following the tests. That relates to CervicalCheck. We discussed this at our previous meetings but we note formally and publish that substantial document even though we have referred to it before.

Next is No. 1561, correspondence from the Higher Education Authority, HEA, regarding the famous retirement event for the former President of CIT and the fact that the HEA is considering the most appropriate means to recuperate the money from the college, which was not approved. We have discussed this correspondence before but never noted and published it. I have a note that it is held over.

Then there is No. 1672, which is correspondence from Professor O hÓgartaigh of the NUI on the non-competitive procurement of €5.12 million. There is a detailed scheduled on the back of that providing the breakdown. For G4 security, it was €373,000, which was probably a roll-over of a contract. The full breakdown of the €5.12 million is there. There is an issue regarding the severance payment and out-of-office leave payroll costs of €91,000. We note and publish that and members will be free to use the information as best they can.

That is all I have from previous correspondence which we had not published to date and which has been sitting on our desks for the last while. We will try to deal with the last of the unpublished correspondence next week. I turn now to the correspondence received this week, of which there is not too much.


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