SF demands clarity on children’s hospital cost

SF demands clarity on children’s hospital cost

Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris. Sinn Féin TD Jonathan O’Brien has called on the government to immediately publish the HSE capital plan after it emerged that the National Children’s Hospital may put other projects under threat. Picture: RollingNews.ie

SINN FÉIN TD Jonathan O’Brien has called on the government to immedietly publish the HSE capital plan after it emerged that the National Children’s Hospital may put other projects under threat.

Mr O’Brien, Sinn Féin’s deputy finance spokesperson, was speaking in the Dáil after it emerged that the HSE has warned the government that cost overruns at the National Children’s Hospital will mean that it won’t have the resources to make proposed multi-million euro investments in other capital projects.

The HSE has yet to publish its capital plan for the year due to the uncertainty about the hospital.

“This morning at the Public Accounts Committee, the HSE confirmed that they have been unable to publish their 2019 capital plan as a direct result of overspending at the National Children’s Hospital,” said Mr O’Brien.

“This is despite being almost halfway through the year.

“Only this morning, it was reported that the former Director General of the HSE told the Department of Health that the additional impact the national children’s hospital over the years 2020, 2021, and 2022 ‘has made what was a very difficult situation almost impossible’,” he added.

Mr O’Brien said that the government needs to come clean on the costs and knock-on effects of the hospital.

“Since the beginning of the year, the Taoiseach and Minister for Finance have told us that no capital projects would be delayed.

“Six months later, the HSE are still not able to provide that guarantee.

“It is time for the Government to get their story straight and tell the public the facts. They must reveal what capital projects will be delayed or cancelled because of repeated overspends in major projects such as the Children’s Hospital and National Broadband Plan.

“This is no way to manage budgets, or to provide clarity to patients,” he said.

The cost overrun comes during a difficult financial period for the HSE.

In the first three months of 2019, the HSE recorded a total financial overrun of €103 million. That’s despite a record level of funding for this year following a €600 million defecit in 2018.

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