Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Health): Statements
Simon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
I must say that I find the comparison with Siteserv a little grotesque when one remembers what we were trying to do here. We were trying to make sure that we had ventilators and rooms for Irish people who might be struggling to breathe and fighting for their lives during a pandemic in which we could have seen 39,000 of our citizens die at this stage. I will never, ever regret making sure that we did everything we possibly, humanly could to obtain access to every single bed, ventilator, nurse, doctor and healthcare professional possible in this pandemic. If that allows Deputy Paul Murphy to score points or play politics, that is okay. There are important questions that he should ask as a Deputy on these matters and I have no difficulty with that. I fully respect his right to do so but trying to elide everything in a big conspiracy theory involving Siteserv is beneath him.
The HSE received information on this on Friday which is currently being analysed. The Deputy will have to pardon me but the information was only received by the HSE last Friday and this is Thursday, in the middle of a pandemic. The Deputy will have to pardon me for not yet analysing information that must go to the HSE, to an accountant and then be relayed to me. The information sought is in line with the heads of terms for the arrangements, which I laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas on 16 April. It includes the management accounts of the hospitals for the six months prior to the arrangement and the information as set out in schedule 2 of the heads of terms. The information is being verified by a firm of accountants on behalf of the HSE, which is the appropriate thing to do. Of course there is commercially-sensitive information therein and most people in this country will understand that, but it is intended to publish summary financial information regarding the arrangement in due course. There will obviously be recourse to the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Committee of Public Accounts and there will be lots of scrutiny but obtaining this capacity was number one, two and three in terms of our priorities and making sure that we had access to as many beds as possible for a surge which, thankfully, has not yet come but which may come in the future.