PAC meeting on children's hospital delayed until May

An artists impression of the National Children's Hospital

A public grilling of the officials in charge of the crisis-hit national children's hospital project will be delayed until mid-May because an independent review of what happened will not be completed on time.

The Dáil's Public Accounts Committee confirmed this morning that it has been forced to push back its planned meeting with the national paediatric hospital development board until May 16 - months after the spending crisis first emerged.

The PAC was due to meet the NPHDB - including public interest representative, Paul Quinn, whose evidence is crucial to uncovering when exactly the Government was first told of the spending overruns - on April 18.

However, in the latest delay to hit the PAC's investigation, a letter from the NPHDB published on Thursday morning said the planned meeting will have to be delayed.

In a letter to the PAC, the NPHDB said: "We understand that PwC are currently targeting to complete their review on April 5 and their report will subsequently be issued to the HSE and other relevant stakeholders for consideration. The NPHBD has not been informed when it will receive a copy of the PwC report. However, it is likely to be some time after April 5.

The PwC report will have to be reviewed and considered in detail by the NPHDB to formulate the board's response. With the Easter break, a meeting of the board will not take place until the May board meeting, on Wednesday, May 1.

"Accordingly, we believe it would be premature to attend on April 18 and respectfully request that the invitation to attend is re-scheduled for a suitable date in May."

PAC chairman and Fianna Fáil TD, Sean Fleming, said the committee "accepts" the need to delay the meeting, and said a new date of May 16 will now be pencilled in.

However, while agreeing with the practical need for the delay, a number of PAC members have raised concerns over the dragging out of its questioning of key hospital board personnel.

The PwC report noted by the NPHDB was sought by the Government as an independent review of the hospital costs issue earlier this year.

While it was originally due to be completed tomorrow, it will now not be concluded until April 5.

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