Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Public Expenditure & Reform Barry Cowen has expressed alarm at the fact that the HSE does not appear to know how many qualified accountants it employs.  Last year, the health service oversaw a budget overrun to the tune of €654m.

Deputy Cowen commented, “There is a clear administrative and management problem in the HSE.  The lack of up to date, consistent and accurate data surrounding costs is staggering. Large companies compile monthly reports to identify where money is being spent so that any overspending can be quickly and easily identified.  The lack of this kind of reporting system stifles management and restricts proper oversight and accountability.

“We still have no clear idea why the health spending last year was over budget by a whopping €654m.  Similarly, the cost of the Children’s Hospital has rocketed from €404m to over €1.4bn at the last estimate.

“We need to get to the bottom of these overspends.  Is it as a result of poor budgeting or is it down to cost control mechanisms?  Whichever way you look at it the HSE needs a modern cost control and budgeting system led by experienced and qualified accountants and analysts.

“If we are to meet the challenge of reforming our health service we need to get a handle on where public money is being spent and who is being held accountable.  This is not possible if we do not have a robust and real time cost control system in place”, concluded Deputy Cowen.