A hospital pass to beleaguered taxpayers

 

 

Imagine you want to build a house. You sit down with a builder and agree a price. Say it’s €200,000. He goes off with his instructions and starts his work. A month into the job he calls and tells you that he made a mistake and that the house will now cost you €800,000 – and it may even go to €1 million. It’s just crazy beyond any explanation. That would be the end of that.

 

  That’s more or less what has happened with the National Children’s Hospital project that has caused so much controversy in the past month. The price has gone up to four or five times the original estimate in the space of six months or so. Why does this always seem to happen in this country when public money is being spent?

  I had to laugh out loud when I heard Taoiseach Leo Varadkar say at the weekend (and with a straight face too) that there would be people held accountable for the mistakes that have been made in connection with this project. What planet is he living on? When did anyone ever take responsibility for wasting taxpayers’ money in this country? I have the answer to that one. Never.

  The people who are responsible for this scandal will be treated the same way as everyone else who has squandered taxpayers’ money over the years has been. At best they will be moved sideways, but most will be promoted – and all will retire with big fat pensions.

  We will have a ‘review’ to find out what happened, and that will cost an arm and a leg too. The review will seek to find out what mistakes were made so that we never make them again. What a laugh that is. Sure we never learn from our mistakes in this country.

  The infuriating thing about this scandal is that this hospital is badly needed and this project must go ahead. But that the costs were let spiral out of control to the extent that they have is quite unbelievable.

  The figures in connection with this scandal are staggering. It will be the most expensive medical facility ever built anywhere in the world. A hospital which is under construction in Adelaide in Australia is expected to cost €1.5 million per bed, which is considered very expensive. Not when our National Children’s Hospital comes into the reckoning though. At the moment the price is €3 million per bed – and rising.

  I am not a construction, medical or financial expert, but like every other ordinary person I am struggling to get my head around the scale of this scandal. In the Sunday Independent at the weekend there was a list of the estimated costs (so far). It was 80 million for this, 90 million for that, 55 million for the other…in a list of about 30 different headings. It was mind-boggling to look at in black and white. Remember, this is your money and my money.

  I am not naïve enough to believe that a top class Children’s Hospital could be built on the cheap. These projects are very expensive and this one has to be done, but we have cocked this one up big time. Work has already started and it’s too late to put the brakes on now. But people being held accountable? You must be joking. On to the next scandal.