Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson, Billy Kelleher said the questions of who was made aware of the decision by Tallaght Hospital to cut the cleaning budget, and when, need to be answered.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “We’ve learned that a decision was taken by management in the hospital reduce the cleaning budget and reduce cleaning services from a seven to six day cycle.

“This has had major implications for standards in the hospital, and is likely to have contributed to the outbreak of the Carbapenemase-Producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE) superbug in the hospital.

“This decision has led to the closure of wards, and the cancellation of 700 operations, and other capacity-draining implications.

“More worryingly, 2000 patients have been put at risk. Let’s get real here, these aren’t 2000 fit and healthy people, but 2000 people in hospital undergoing treatment due to being ill.

“At a time when the ability of our health system is being severely restricted by reduced capacity, this decision with its knock on effects could not have come at a worse time.

“The decision to save money by reducing the cleaning bill suggests a very worrying short-termism in our health system. The question needs to be asked: were the HSE, at senior management level, and the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar at the time, informed about this decision, and if not, why not?

“If budgets were being squeezed to such an extent that the cleaning budget had to be paired back, surely that warranted a report being escalated within the system?  Moreover, why over this period of time did HIQA not inspect the hospital and how was this not noticed sooner?

“I will be writing to the Chair of the Oireachtas Committee requested that both hospital management and representatives from HIQA are brought before the committee to answer questions.  Answers are needed, and I intend to get them,” concluded Kelleher.