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Call to target health service waste

The Government has been called on to attack waste in the health service instead of targeting the front line with unfair cuts.

Fine Gael's James Reilly described a Health Service Executive (HSE) audit that revealed a catalogue of misuse of public money as proof millions can be saved from the backroom.

The report was first leaked in June when the HSE discovered over 2.5 million euro of the 60 million euro SKILL budget had been paid over to an account linked to the trade union Siptu.

It is understood auditors also found inadequate documentation was submitted to back up claims worth 348,000 euro - which included a retirement party, over 12,500 euro on taxis, and charges for mobile phones, laptops, home broadband, gifts and gratuities.

The HSE would not comment on the report, which is due to be discussed at the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee on Thursday.

Siptu, which has maintained it never received any of the SKILL money, has carried out its own investigation which is due out next week.

Dr Reilly, Fine Gael health spokesperson, said the internal audit report smacks of the kind of practices that were seen in FAS.

"It shows serious financial failures, with 2.35 million euro in an account that seems to have no accounting channels," he said.

"The audit detected 31 foreign trips for which there were no records. It found 12,500 euro was spent on taxis, many of which were taken on Saturday night/Sunday mornings, and charges for mobile phones, laptops, broadband and gifts.

"It is proof, if that were needed, that huge potential for savings within the health service originates in the back room bureaucracy and that the Government's priority should be to attack waste and bad practice, instead of constantly targeting the front line with unfair cutbacks."

Press Association

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