Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Public Accounts Committee

Financial Statement 2020 and Related Matters: HSE

9:30 am

Mr. Paul Reid:

I will make a broad comment first on procurement more widely and the issues around compliant versus non-compliant and competitive versus non-competitive. We acknowledge we have significant work to do on our procurement processes overall, and there has been a very significant commitment by the executive team on our board to set out a range of actions, which we have covered in the report to the Committee of Public Accounts so I will not list them off, but I want to acknowledge that upfront. It is something we are giving a lot of attention to and something the board is very focused on.

Specifically regarding the ventilators and recovery of cost, I will give a little context from my perspective first. I know the Deputy has covered this in his opening comments, but it is just to put into context what we were seeking, the volume we were seeking and the context in which we had to commit that spend. We all know that at the start of this we were dealing with harrowing images from across the world that we were all seeing on our screens. From an ICU perspective we do not benchmark strongly at all by international comparisons with our ICU facility. We know about the early forecasts, and I have covered in the opening statement the early predictions that if certain public health actions were not taken, there would be up to 40,000 deaths, potentially. We knew that was the context we were entering into. Specifically regarding ventilators, what was happening at that time was-----