HSE paid Lecarrow testing firm €14.1m for unused ventilators

Local TD Denis Naughten has raised concerns regarding medical procurement policies during the Covid-19 pandemic after it emerged that the firm responsible for antigen testing in Roscommon earlier this year was paid €14.1 million by the HSE for ventilators which have failed quality tests.

It was reported in the Irish Examiner last week that Roqu Media International Ltd., the company which carried out Covid-19 antigen testing in Lecarrow in October and November, had been paid for the medical ventilators, which have yet to be used due to ‘quality issues’.

Roqu CEO Robert Quirke has since said the ventilators required “specific ongoing calibration” and that Roqu had connected the HSE with the manufacturers.

Deputy Naughten said: “Deputy Roisin Shorthall raised the matter during Leaders’ Questions (last Thursday)…it raises significant questions across the board in relation to procurement during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Deputy Naughten said it was understood that the HSE couldn’t go through the normal procurement process due to the urgency of the developing situation in March.

“While the HSE couldn’t go through the traditional routes in terms of procurement, there was still supposed to be a certain amount of due diligence. The Government had brought in Science Foundation Ireland to help with the many unsolicited offers of help at the outbreak of the pandemic.

“I myself was contacted by quite a number of businesses with offers of PPE equipment and I advised them to go through the route the Government had advised with Science Foundation Ireland.

“Whether the Roqu group went through this I don’t know but there was supposed to be a mechanism in place to review these offers,” he said.

Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council, Cllr. Laurence Fallon was involved in facilitating the antigen testing programme in Lecarrow over six weeks in October and November and said that there had been no issues with the Roqu group.

“They came to us and told us what they wanted and asked us if we could supply people for the testing. There were no financial dealings and they carried out the testing independently.

“The Parish Council had no real dealings with the Roqu group other than supplying the grounds (of St. John’s Church) and setting up a rota and stewarding.

“They did what they said they were going to do and we did what we said we were going to do and there were no issues whatsoever,” Cllr. Fallon said.