Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health

Quarterly Update on Health Issues: Discussion
Quarterly Update on Health Issues: Discussion

9:00 am

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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I cannot agree with the Deputy on that. What I agree with him on is that we are going to look at ways of mitigating the cost further, without compromising the clinical benefits, which neither of us wants to do, of the hospital. I have put in the additional line regarding that in the terms of reference at the Deputy's constructive suggestion.

I must respond to a couple of points the Deputy has made. He said people on this side of the table, and presumably he is including me, suggest that nobody has done anything wrong. To be clear, that is not my position nor is it the position of the Government. The position of the Government and myself is that the PwC report will identify roles and who did what, who knew what and will knit all this together in a way in which it has an expertise that we as individuals and collectives may not have.

The Deputy talked about not telling the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform. I was very clear in my opening statement that it was well known in Government Departments beyond my own that the guaranteed maximum price, GMP, process would have to be worked through, that it would arrive at an outcome and that this outcome would then go to Government. The Deputy said that no contracts were cancelled. That is factually true. The Deputy knows that I do not have the legal power to cancel contracts. The awarding of contracts is a matter for the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board. I thought I had said this but perhaps I have not said it explicitly. If the PwC report, or any report, suggests that a company which has a contract did something wrong or was incompetent or inept, we will act with the full vigour of the law to pursue the matter under the contracts we have. I assure the Deputy of that.

Deputy Donnelly and I go back and forth on the issue of costs, on which we have different viewpoints. It is not just a matter of cost per bed because it is not just about beds. It is also about moving from 14 theatres to 22 theatres and from having two or two and half MRI machines for children to having five of them. Costs are not comparable with the costs of the Mater Hospital because the new hospital will be a digital hospital. We cannot build paper based hospitals in the 21st century. The new hospital will also be spread across three sites. The facility at Connolly Hospital will open and start providing services for children this summer. The extra equipment was delivered this week. The AECOM review was a good way to look at the question because it looked at what it would cost to build an equivalent paediatric hospital in London. From memory, I believe it indicated a cost of €9,000 per square metre in London, while our hospital will cost €6,500 per square metre. This will be an expensive hospital but-----