The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has raised concerns about the level of public money being spent by Cork University Hospital (CUH) on the outsourcing of services to consultancy firms.
It comes as correspondence between Labour TD Sean Sherlock and the hospital revealed that a total of €608,252 was paid to PwC Consultants by the hospital between October and December last year.
The hospital said that PwC was procured on the basis of government frameworks, tendered for on a national level, and in line with government/HSE procurement guidelines.
INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the INMO is “extremely concerned” about the situation and said that it will continue to raise the issue at upcoming meetings with the HSE.
“The fact that one hospital, Cork University Hospital, increased its spend on consultancy firms by 333.8% in the space of one month is shocking,” she said.
“Trade unions representing all workers in the public service believe that the continued reliance on consultancy firms is a breach of the outsourcing provisions covered in the latest public sector agreement and have referred to the Public Sector Agreement Oversight Group.”
Deputy Sherlock told The Echo: "It's hard to square off where €600,000 has been spent when people are on trolleys every day.
"More public scrutiny of spending of this nature is needed."
Chief Executive Officer of CUH David Donegan said in the correspondence with Deputy Sherlock that PwC, amongst others, have undertaken work at a national, regional and local level with CUH and CUH Group over recent years.
For example, the National Trauma Programme is supported by PwC Project Management support, including at CUH.
“Regionally, South/South West Hospital Group have also used PwC to support it in various ways. In certain cases, CUH has either then continued this work or engaged its own support on local projects as needed.
“As such, PwC spend on CUH projects specifically is difficult to accurately account for by any one organisation, as it may be funded and invoiced to a range of organisations depending on the origins of the work.
“CUH Group (which includes Mallow General Hospital, Bantry General Hospital, St Finbarr's Rehabilitation Unit & CUH Wilton) has a very significant service and organisational improvement agenda, and a new CEO has been brought in to lead that from late 2022.
Mr Donegan also confirmed that at no time have any PwC members of staff been asked to, authorised to or expected to take on line management or operational management of HSE staff or HSE services.
He said that no reviews had any adverse implications for current staff (redundancies or demotions), though some may involve restructuring and additional new opportunities if funded.
When PwC is present in meetings or acting as project managers, he said they are at all times supporting/advising a HSE employee who has accountability.
Mr Donegan further confirmed that to date, there has not been a single concern raised by a CUH employee about this work and that there has been widespread support for it, particularly from the hospital’s clinical leaders.