Awarding of contract for medical helicopter service in southwest is challenged in court

UK-based Sloane Helicopters Limited took case against the HSE over its decision on provision of emergency medical services

A dispute over the awarding of a contract to provide emergency medical helicopter services for the HSE in the southwest of the country has been admitted to the fast-track Commercial Court list.

The action has been brought by UK-based Sloane Helicopters Limited against the HSE decision to award a contract for the provision of emergency medical services based in Co Cork to serve the soutwest of the country for a period of 24 months, starting from later this year.

The HSE anticipates that this service will carry out some 50 missions per month.

Last June, Sloane was informed that its tender for the service had not been successful, and the public contract had been given to Maltese based Gulf Med Aviation Ltd.


In High Court proceedings aimed at overturning that decision, Sloane claims the decision is flawed and unlawful, and in breach of EU directives and regulations.

It claims that the HSE failed to properly evaluate its tender in a fair and proper manner.

Irrelevant matters were taken into consideration when the tenders were being assesses, it is also claimed.

One of the issues raised by the company is that successful entity scored substantially higher under certain criteria the assessment of the respective tenders that Sloane did.

This, Sloane claims, is despite the fact that Gulf Med has no experience in operating the services in Ireland and has no pilots based in Ireland despite there being a requirement to have the services operational within a period of three months from the date of the contract award.

It is also claimed that the HSE accepted “an abnormally low tender.” It claims the successful bid is 38 per cent lower that its bid.

The HSE denies the claims and the action is being fully opposed. The matter was admitted to the list by Mr Justice Denis McDonald on Tuesday.

The judge said that he was satisfied that the dispute was a suitable matter to be heard by the Commercial Court.

In his ruling Mr Justice Denis McDonald noted the parties’ desire for the matter to be heard as soon as possible.

The action will return before the court after the new legal year commences in October.