A SINN Féin Councillor has claimed “huge sums of money” are being handed over to private companies to provide services at St Joseph’s Hospital.
General Election Candidate Gary Doherty was speaking after following correspondence issued by the HSE which shows the total amount paid to private firms for services to the hospital had almost tripled between the years 2013 and 2015. This despite only a marginal increase to overall hospital funding.
“As we all know the issue of the privatisation of services has come under the spotlight more and more in recent years, particularly as people begin to question spending and the efficiency of our public services, particularly in health,” he said.
“Accordingly, I decided to ask my colleague, Deputy Pearse Doherty, to raise this issue with the Minister and to ask for figures relating to the amount of money spent by the hospital on subcontracted services in recent years.
“The HSE has now issued those figures which show that the total amount of money which was handed over to private companies to carry out services for St Joseph’s Hospital actually almost tripled between 2013 and 2015,.
“This means that the total cost to the hospital increased from just over €22,000 three years ago up to well over €65,000 last year.”
Cllr Doherty said such a “stark increase” is very questionable, particularly at a time when hospital budgets are being stretched to their limit and services are being removed and downgraded from the hospital.
“It’s no surprise either that this increase has had a knock on effect on the hospital’s operating costs, which also increased during these years and went up by €183,000 in 2015 compared to two years earlier.
“Where we begin to worry is that despite an increase of €183,000 for actually running the hospital, the hospital’s budget allocation from the HSE only increased marginally by an additional €5,000 in 2015.”
He said the figures raise some very serious questions about the management of the hospital and also about why only such a small increase to funding was provided there, despite the jump in its operating costs.
“Sinn Féin’s position is clear on this, our party believes that, where possible services should not be taken away from hospitals and put into the hands of private firms to profit from, because often this comes at the expense of clinical services being offered to patients.”