A Donegal Councillor says there is speculation that the amount paid out by insurers following flooding at Letterkenny General Hospital could be as much as 10 million euro less than the actual costs incurred.
Cllr Dessie Shiels has written a letter to the Manager of Letterkenny General Hospital outlining a number of questions which he says must be answered in the wake of the flooding in 2013 and 2014.
In his letter to Hospital Manager Sean Murphy, Cllr Shiels says a number of questions need to be answered.
He asks what consideration was given at the planning stage to pre-existing reports which identified a clear flooding risk at the Hospital, and also asks for details of a reported flood in 2009 during the construction phase, and what the reaction to that event was.
He also raises a number of questions abvout the 2013 flood, and the response to it particularly in respect of the application in relation to the new culvert.
He also raises financial issues, including the cost to the State arising from the 2013 and 2014 floods. Cllr Shiels says there is speculation that there was a 10 milliion euro difference between the damage caused and the actual amount of insurance compensation obtained, and clarity is required on this.
The letter in full -
|Re: Floods at Letterkenny General Hospital in July 2013 and August 2014 – the need for accountability|
Dear Mr Murphy
I refer to the above.
You were quoted in an RTE report of 6 August 2014 as stating that an investigation into the flooding incident that occurred on 5th August 2014 was ongoing and that:
"We are not going to speculate as to what these findings will be. We will publish the result of the investigation as soon as is feasible. More than anyone else in Donegal, we want answers."
Taken at face value and in isolation a reader of those words might have expected a very prompt and comprehensive report to issue where failures would be indentified and measures set out to apportion responsibility to all persons involved in construction of the new A&E building at the Hospital which ultimately led to both floods at the Hospital. The public would also expect that persons would be held accountable for any failures contributing to the very substantial losses occasioned to the State as a result of the 2 floods – there will be no satisfactory “answers” without accountablity.
However it is now almost 9 months later and you have still not produced any investigation report despite your statement in August 2014 that “More than anyone else in Donegal, we want answers.”
It does not appear to me that there is any urgency being given to dealing with this matter. This is totally undermining any public confidence which might have existed and instead the Donegal public simply do not believe that full and proper explanations of all relevant matters will be produced. I have examined the first ‘report’ (if it can be called that) which was produced in the aftermath of the July 2013 flood. Unfortunately that report did not address the underlying flood risks which existed at the Hospital site which risks subsequently were in action again in the flooding incident of August 2014.
At this stage you will have seen the report prepared by Donegal County Council which has indentified various failures of the HSE as regards the planning process. This report makes it clear that the concerns of Donegal County Council planners were not addressed by the HSE and this is a matter that needs detailed explanation.
It is also the case that various other issues need to be addressed once and for all:
- In seeking planning permission for the new A&E building what consideration was given to the number of pre-existing reports which identified a clear flooding risk at the Hospital? Were these pre-existing reports ignored or not understood? Who is responsible for that – is it HSE management and/or the professional engineers employed on the new building development?
- When there was a flood during construction of the building in 2009, what consideration was then given to the obvious propensity for flooding at the hospital and if no consideration was given or inadequate consideration was given, who is responsible for that – is it HSE management and/or the professional engineers employed on the new building development?
- How is it that no one at the Hospital, either management or those employed to advise on the new A&E building was able to identify the obvious flood risks that existed up stream both from the river up stream and also from storm water which could travel down the main public road and into the site? Why were drains not installed at the perimeters of the site?
- Following the July 2013 flood why were the above obvious flood risks not immediately addressed, especially in circumstances where same were repeatedly highlighted by Donegal County Council planners in the context of the HSE planning application then submitted in relation to the culvert pipe only. Were the HSE engineers authorised by the HSE to advise council planners that "it was not their remit to address potential flooding around the remainder of the hospital”. Who do the HSE say is responsible for not dealing with these matters in 2013 which subsequently allowed the August 2014 flood to occur?
- What has been the precise cost to the State arising from the 2013 and 2014 floods – in other words what is the precise deficit to the State between the damage caused and the actual amount of insurance compensation obtained. This has been speculated to be in the region of 10 million Euro and clarity is required on this.
- Have the HSE taken advice on whether it has any recourse against 3rd parties for the loss to the State occasioned by the 2 floods and if so what is that advice?
- How many out-patient appointments were delayed by the 2 floods and have the HSE identified how many operations were delayed by the 2 floods?
- When will the out- patient services that have been moved off site in the aftermath of the first flood be returned to the hospital campus and what has been the cost of moving out-patient services off site to the privately owned premises? Will the HSE confirm a return date for these out-patient services to the Hospital campus to minimise any further costs to the State.
These are the questions which the Donegal Public want answers to and if as you have been previously quoted as saying “More than anyone else in Donegal, we want answers", I trust that the much delayed report will deal with all of these matters. The Donegal Public expect that persons will be held accountable for any failures contributing to the very substantial losses occasioned to the State as a result of the 2 floods and should any report be produced which ignores these issues, then these matters will remain to be addressed.
I await hearing from you to confirm when a report will now be issued and to confirm that all of the above matters will be addressed in full within that report.
Councillor Dessie Shiels