I propose to take Questions Nos. 171 and 193 together.
The availability of property at a particular location does not determine the HSE's accommodation needs; rather, the delivery of health care services, as suitably prioritised, will always be the consideration. The health care service delivery objectives are set out in each year's annual Service Plan which is laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The senior manager with responsibility for the delivery of the health care service requiring accommodation must be satisfied that (a) the accommodation is required and (b) formally approve a detailed Business Proposal before a Business Case and a Property Transaction Application Form are completed. In addition, a decision to lease accommodation must deliver value for money and must be guided by The Public Financial Procedures (also known as the Blue Book) which states that 'In the longer term, purchasing will generally tend to provide better value for money than leasing. Contracting authorities should therefore ensure that, if leasing is to be availed of, the leasing contract to be availed of should be the best that can be concluded in the commercial circumstances obtaining'.
The HSE is also engaged in rationalising its property portfolio and is disposing of surplus assets by rescinding leases and selling property which is no longer required for service delivery.