The HSE spent almost €2 million in 2011 renting 41 properties in Laois and Offaly.
Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley was given the figure following his Dáil question, and is questioning value for money.
“This is a staggering amount of money considering that the health services are cash strapped. The HSE needs to confirm that all of the buildings owned and rented by them are being fully utilised. Buildings previously used by the HSE and which they owned are now lying idle such as Aras Eoghan and much of St Fintan’s Hospital in Portlaoise,” he said.
The HSE spent €1,936,670 renting premises in both counties in 2011, an increase of almost €600,000 from 2008.
“Is it the case that the HSE are tied into boom time prices and upward only rent reviews? Given the constraints on the public finances, renting and leasing should be a last resort and, when this is done, maximum value for the taxpayer should be achieved.” says Dep Stanley, who plans to meet Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin to stress this.
The HSE has told the Leinster Express that they are continually reviewing their accommodation lease arrangements, and the appropriate use of all the properties they own, to achieve value for money.
“The HSE are using break clauses where applicable which allow the HSE to either quit a lease or renegotiation a rent. The HSE is satisfied that further significant savings in rental accommodation will be achieved this year. All property transactions are approved at corporate level and are subject to a stringent approval process,” said a statement released yesterday, Monday January 7.
The HSE also clarified that they no longer own Aras Eoghain in O’Moore Place, Portlaoise. Out of the 41 premises they leased in 2011, 29 were in Offaly, costing €1,503,033.29 and 12 were in Laois, costing €445,431.64.