Why no-one cried halt to hospital overspend

 

Sir, –This Government is all about image and spin – substance is largely ignored.

With a general election possible at any time at the behest of Fianna Fáil, Leo Varadkar and his Government wanted to have the new children’s hospital underway before going to the country.

This hospital project was rushed to tender on inadequate documentation. When the weaknesses in the specification and quantities started to surface with extra money having to be provided for the actual work being undertaken, the managing committee faced with extra costs of €391 million in August 2018 decided that nobody would know apart from those who needed to know, and the chairman had the committee sign a confidentiality agreement to that effect.

It was reported that Varadkar had considered a run to the country in October/November last year, and it is a reasonable assumption that a cost overrun of this magnitude on their flagship project would not be helpful.

Simon Harris has admitted that he was informed of the increased cost in August 2018. Paschal Donohoe had a member of his staff on the hospital committee but claims nobody told him anything, while Varadkar claims nobody told him but it did not really matter as the hospital was going to be built anyway and would be the best of its type.

How could you put these three amigos in charge of anything, never mind the actual country? – Yours, etc,

JOHN WILLIAMS,

Athy ,

Co Kildare.

Sir, – What the taxpayers of both now and the future, including those who will have been patients of children’s hospitals, need of the Government and entire Oireachtas forthwith is to stop fiddling with their insane children’s hospital project. They, and they alone, have created the mess, and it is preposterous that they now arrogate to themselves the appointment of judge and jury to jab the finger of blame anywhere except at themselves. There are four facts to which we must not be blinded by the bilge from Leinster House:

1. It is beyond doubt that St James’s Hospital always was, still is, and forever will be the wrong site for the new children’s hospital.

2. Its cost, having exploded already from a few hundred to a couple of thousand millions, is still a mere estimate, and none of us knows how far further up the spiral the actual cost will eventually be spun.

3. We, the people who are paying and will pay for the hospital, have it on good and proven authority, infinitely better than any the Government will acknowledge, that a hospital with a specification at least equal to that at present (best in the world, forsooth) contemplated can be built at Blanchardstown, and that a co-located maternity hospital can be included with it, all to be completed far earlier and at a cost well below even the most optimistic of the estimates for the St James’s fiasco.

4. It would be utterly stupid to build the new hospital into a health service as ruinous and incompetently managed as the present one.

Therefore what we taxpayers demand is that the man who has undertaken to provide No 3 above be commissioned now to go ahead with it, untrammelled by any bureaucratic or political hoops, and that another supremo be found and given immediate carte blanche to be utterly ruthless and expeditious in transforming the Health Service Executive into a lean, efficient and effective unit that can provide for our health without wasting our money. – Yours, etc,

FRANK FARRELL,

Blackrock, Co Dublin.