We are joined by the Comptroller and Auditor General who is a permanent witness at the committee. He is joined by Ms Maureen Mulligan, deputy director of audit.
Apologies have been received from Deputy Deering. We will hold the minutes over until next week.
I wish to raise an item arising from last week's meeting, the seeking of additional information. We have discussed it, but we will consider the formal minutes next week. At last week's meeting there was quite a discussion about the correspondence which had been received from the HSE, item No. 2334. We discussed the breakdown of consultancy costs for the children's hospital group. Expenditure under the heading of ICT-digital was €3.6 million; expenditure under the heading of clinical operational support was €3.5 million; expenditure on medical equipment was €1.8 million; expenditure on corporate services was €1.6 million; while expenditure under the heading of programme management was €421,000, giving an approximate figure of €11 million. We said we would seek additional information, but I want us to be more specific about what we are seeking. I want to write back to the HSE telling it that we want a description of each consultancy project and information on when it started, how much has been expended to date and the estimated total cost of each project. We saw the payments for consultancy arrangements for one year. Is it just part of a bigger picture? We want to have a full picture of each item included in the figure of €11 million. If it only involves the consultancy aspect, is there a larger project to be delivered at the end of the consulting work and is there an estimate of what it will cost? The HSE tells us that it is related to the children's hospital group which encompasses Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght hospitals and that it is integrating all of the children's hospital networks in Dublin that will form part of the national paediatric programme. We have discussed the cost of construction at length, but we have always known that several hundred million euro is to be set aside to cover IT, patient and non-construction costs which will be significant. Nobody had really addressed this issue. As we have only looked at the increasing cost of construction, we want to know how this aspect fits in.
We want to put the same letter to the Department of Health. Has it been incurring any expenditure on the project that is not showing through the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board? In particular, we want to write to Children's Health Ireland, the CEO of which is Ms Eilísh Hardiman. It has been mentioned here before. Ms Hardiman is probably involved in what we are talking about. To my knowledge, the group was formally established as a public body on 1 January 2019. Up until then it was operating under the HSE, but on 1 January a new board was established for Children's Health Ireland. We want to write to it also. We want to pull all of the strands of the extra elements together - the Department of Health, the HSE and Children's Health Ireland - in order that we can get a full picture because when the national children's hospital opens, we all want it to function properly from day one. It is obvious that there will be extra costs. What is beginning to happen is that there are extra costs. When we know to ask the right questions, I want to have a comprehensive picture of all of these elements. I think members understand from where I am coming. It is that we will know where we are going, rather than have another €100 million pop up about which nobody will have told us.