Supply And Demand

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From top: Eurosurgical Limited; Noel Bergin, supply chain co-ordinator at Dublin’s Beacon Hospital; an invoice for a holiday to Florida for Mr Bergin and his family sent to Eurosurgical; Alan Kane, of Eurosurgical; David Byrne, contracts manager at St Vincent’s Hospital.

Last night, on Prime Time, Paul Murphy, from the RTE Investigations Unit, reported that some senior hospital staff at St Vincent’s Hospital and Beacon Hospital have received expensive holidays and gifts from Dublin surgical supply firm, Eurosurgical Limited – which is part owned by Alan Kane.

Alan Kane is also Eurosurgical’s sales director.

Noel Bergin is the supply chain co-ordinator at the Beacon Hospital.

Prime Time reported that, last August, Mr Bergin, his partner and three children went to Florida on a two-week holiday and an invoice for the holiday – amounting to €7,750 – was sent by a travel agent directly to Eurosurgical Limited.

RTE also showed emails sent by Alan Kane, referring to Mr Bergin as ‘my man.’

A lawyer for Mr Bergin told Prime Time:

“Our client was not offered and did not accept a gift…our client paid in full for the holiday in the sum of €5,000. Eurosurgical Limited had no involvement in the matter save that Mr [Alan] Kane introduced him to the travel agent…[Mr Bergin] paid Alan Kane €5,000 in cash for the holiday for transmission to the travel agent.”

In a statement, Eurosurgical told RTE the travel agents are “close personal friends” of the Kane family – which owns Eurosurgical – and that…

“…This enabled them to get the benefit of the travel agent’s purchasing power and thereby better rates than those available to the general public. Typically the travel agent invoiced Eurosurgical Limited whom the individual would then reimburse.”

It also said it would be seeking the balance of the holiday – which actually cost €8,840 – from Mr Bergin.

Meanwhile, Prime Time also alleged that some hospital staff have passed on sensitive information to Mr Kane.

Last April, Mr Kane emailed  David Byrne, contracts manager at St Vincent’s Hospital, asking him for a breakdown of John Bannon Limited’s sales to St Vincent’s.  John Bannon Limited is one of Eurosurgical’s main competitors:

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After obtaining the figures for 11 months’ worth of sales, and forwarding them to his Hotmail address, Mr Byrne then forwarded the figures from his Hotmail account to Alan Kane.

A lawyer for Eurosurgical told Prime Time, the sharing of competitor information by hospitals is an “open and widely acknowledged practice” that is the “current industry norm”.

RTE also reported that, in June 2014, Mr Byrne emailed Mr Kane, from his Hotmail account, telling him about an impending order.

In the same email Mr Byrne asked Mr Kane for a €500 shopping  voucher:

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Mr Byrne didn’t respond to requests for a comment from RTE but Eurosurgical Limited said the shopping voucher was for a spot prize for the St Vincent’s Golfing Society and that the voucher was actually for €50, not €500 but “was never furnished”.

Prime Time also reported that Mr Byrne went on a four-day trip to Fota Island in Cork and Eurosurgical Limited paid for the trip – with Mr Byrne sending Mr Kane an invoice for the trip, from his Hotmail account.

In the email, Mr Byrne states he will “issue a PO to sort”. PO means a purchasing order.

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Mr Byrne again refused to speak to RTE in relation to this holiday but Eurosurgical told Prime Time it did pay for it because Mr Byrne told it that he was “under a lot of pressure and would like a break”. Eurosurgical also said Mr Byrne later wrote a cheque to Eurosurgical to pay for the holiday but that the cheque was never cashed.

Watch Prime Time back in full here

Hospitals to investigate allegations over gifts (RTE)

57 thoughts on “Supply And Demand

    1. Dongle

      So effing infuriating. Next week there will another dodgy deal in the news, another nama scandal/site serve expose and this will be old news.

    2. rotide

      Why do people insist no painting ireland as unique with regards to things like this.

      Lovely little humans would be far more accurate

  1. Mikeyfex

    Alan Kane? The man pictured on the phone? With the grey shirt that has a white collar and white cuffs? Is a salesman, you say?

    Not buyin’ it

  2. gorugeen

    In a past life I was a purchasing manager in the private sector. In one organization I joined I discovered an individual who was in cahoots with a suppliers employee. Their respective employers had unknowingly paid for them to build their dream home. strong, robust and diligent oversight is always essential where temptation and opportunity co exist. Who were these guys answering to?

  3. phil

    See its all easily explained away, it kinda reminds me of the Grow room I have in my back garden shed, the wife asked me if that was illegal , I explained to her that this was an “open and widely acknowledged practice” that is the “current industry norm”. I also told her I wont smoke it , that its for a pot prize for a St Marley Golfing Society…

  4. Fe Dlowered

    Salesman provides incentives to procurement officer to secure deal. It’s not unique to the medical industry, or to Ireland. It’s just business. Capitalism at work. Bet Mick Wallace is sick that he didn’t get to break the story using parliamentary privilege.

    1. Ms Piggy

      No, it’s not unique to the medical industry or to Ireland. It is, however, corruption.

        1. cluster

          F*** that – proof of a direct favour being carried out in repsonse or not, this is dodgy enoguh to be labelled corruption.

          There needs to be prosecution.
          And jailtime.

          1. carrig way

            Really – what about government and bankers doing deals for themselves – why not start with that and then follow through – unfortunately the legal system could cope with the amount of occupancy

    2. Mr. T.

      St. Vincent’s are responsible for spending public money provided by the HSE to supply medical services via the public hospital.

      Under EU procurement laws, it is illegal to take incentives from suppliers to favour their products.

      It’s quite simple really.

    3. nellyb

      Incentive is not provided to the business, but to an individual withing business. And it is not clear whether it was the best choice for business either. It aint capitalism.

    4. carrig way

      Mr.Murphy if RTE has it wrong – went to the wrong hospital – Gerry Kennan in the Vincents private hospital is the real man who could teach any government a thing or 2 – and is a master at tennis

      1. Green JJ

        Really on the bottom of feeding trough!! – where are Fannins- and Kieran O’ Halloran could be more watch the papers!!!

  5. Spaghetti Hoop

    Briefly worked in this ‘favour for a favour’ business culture, albeit on a far lower scale than this, but equally dirty and equally ego-propelling for those involved.

  6. Mr. T.

    “…This enabled them to get the benefit of the travel agent’s purchasing power and thereby better rates than those available to the general public. Typically the travel agent invoiced Eurosurgical Limited whom the individual would then reimburse.”

    Aha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Have they an idea how ridiculous that sounds.

    1. Miko

      This is lawyer speak for we have no defence. On the basis of the available evidence the entire business of eurosurgical will need to be liquidated and the procurement officers fired with no real hope of working in their profession again let alone the potential of criminal charges. They have nothing to lose hence the fantastical defence…

  7. Mr. T.

    I never trust a man who wears a white collar on a blue shirt. It’s a cheap look. You’re white collar or you’re not.

  8. Mourinho

    This happens when you’re not spending your own money.
    So you need systems, rules and oversight.
    Of the thousands of HSE managers surely one had a job of purchasing manager.

    1. ahjayzis

      Systems, rules, oversight and deadly serious consequences for offenders. It’s stealing, after all.

  9. 15 cents

    each scandal is forgotten about becasue a new fresh scandal comes along .. no one is ever held accountable for them either. its being rubbed in our faces. nothing is ever done about them.

  10. ahjayzis

    Blacklist Eurosurgical from any public or semi-state contract.
    Lifetime ban on the public servants involved from working in the PS, and total forfeiture of their pensions.

    It’s the only way to deal with this sh*t.

    1. Westbrit

      They’re not public servants. The Beacon is a wholly private entity. St Vincent’s is run by a board of directors , although the public hospital is funded by The HSE they do not have any say on who is employed or on what terms as witnessed in the previous pay debacle wher St Vincent’s told The HSE to mind their own business. I’ve worked in the public sector for over 20 years, with the last ten being involved in procurement. There are over 20 staff spread across 5 departments all of whom must agree to a tender process and contract awarding , as per public procurement rules. The private sector with its corporate gifts. Golf society “donations”, conferences etc is a completely different matter as witnessed in the documentary

      1. Mr. T.

        So you well know then, that procuring goods and services using HSE money is governed by EU rules. And if you don’t know that, you’re not qualified for your job.

  11. Spot on, No bother

    This company have been doing this for years all over the country. They also don’t hire women unless beyond child bearing age. Nice people.

    1. Mr. T.

      If you have proof that they have a policy of not hiring women of child bearing age, you should report that to the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.

  12. Not_my_usual_name

    Having worked in a lab in a major hospital in the country please allow me to confirm that there was, in my experience, a culture of kick backs. I was not on the receiving end of any such benefits, it was for the more senior staff, but it certainly existed.

    I’d also say that I actually saw very little wrong with it, while you may think that everyone in the HSE is a chancer and gets overpaid, I saw people who were highly qualified, highly competent, and who deserved to be getting better treatment having their careers destroyed by a brutal and blind hack and slash policy of this government. There is a problem in the HSE but a solution is not being targeted in anyway, they are just trying to balance the book by whatever means necessary. Personally I thought that if these people are getting a free dinner or a trip away on a suppliers dime it’s totally fine. I see it all the time in the private sector where I now work and it’s considered to be a legitimate way to reward customers and drum up new business so I don’t see why there’s an issue for HSE employees.

    This said, what’s being quoted by Prime Time does seem more like all out bribes than kickbacks.

    1. ahjayzis

      The difference between a private company taking a ‘kickback’ or bribe for engaging with a particular favoured supplier is completely different. It’s their own money, they can completely ignore best-value arguments if they want.

      The HSE and HSE staff are dealing with other people’s money and will personally face no consequences if it is misspent – the requirement for strict controls and more rigorous professional standards is obvious. Best value has to be the only criteria when it’s NOT your money you’re spending.

      Professional services companies do this already – every architectural firm I’ve worked in have a limit of 20 quid on gifts from suppliers – why? Because we’re spending *our clients’ money* – same thing should apply to public service workers.

      1. Not_my_usual_name

        First of all, it was not the HSE’s money that was spent on gifts, it was the companies.

        If you are suggesting that HSE staff should me more careful with money, again, pointing to my own experience, they are. There was a consistent drive to get value for money in every area, from necessary stationary to very expensive machines. These perks from the companies would, I’m sure, have had some influence on the decision made, but I do know of more than one instance where, for the more generic machines, the lowest tender bid was the winner regardless of the salesman tactics.

        A major issue with the HSE is that investment in better, more streamlined ways of doing things is difficult as they can not invest in the necessary equipment and training time required to modify their practices, as this money has to be justified.

        1. Tucker Done

          It was hospital money, part funded by the HSE, that was spent on curtains from Eurosurgical which were 10 times more expensive than another supplier. So yes, that money was spent on gifts for the procurement officer and the remainder went onto Eurosurgical’s bottom line

        2. ahjayzis

          Are you wilfuly misreading me? It’s not the HSE’s money spent on gifts, it IS the HSE’s money the gift-givers are looking to attract by GIVING gifts.

          I’m saying as someone who works in professional services in firms that procure millions of pounds of materials and work for clients, I would not and can not accept holidays or anything more than a token gift from the providers. Most professional bodies have similar restrictions on their members, it’s called professional ethics, something that should be doubly important in public services.

          It’s as simple as that – it is unethical to accept kickbacks from tenderers or suppliers when the money you’re looking to spend isn’t yours. If you can’t see that…

          1. Not_my_usual_name

            Me saying kickbacks is probably the wrong word. I mean to attract business these people get the wine and dine treatment.

            That said, you raise an interesting point, the money for these gifts has to come from somewhere. Even if a company who does spend money on meals or trips for a potential customer doesn’t win the contract, the cost has to be absorbed, and it will serve to artificially inflate the price marketwide. I hadn’t really thought about it that way before.

          2. ahjayzis

            Again, when you’re spending someone else’s money, being wined and dined is unethical – it’s not your money, you appraise the supplier by the value and price and whatever other necessary specification they can offer your client

            Client’s don’t pay you to go and see which supplier can get you drunk fastest.

          3. ahjayzis

            Anything else prompts a perception of a conflict of interest at best. How would you imagine your client would react if it came to light later that the supplier you’d found for them took you to a VIP box at Croke Park for a day? Same should apply doubly to people dealing with public money.

  13. Jake38

    The explanations are hilarious. They remind me of Bertie at one of his Tribunal appearances.

  14. LookingOn

    Interestingly. The ‘Holiday’ was billed to EuroSurgical, and would show as a tax write-off in their books (‘Training’ mentioned). The company told the reporter that they received the cash from the Supply Chain fellow, for the holiday, and that there wouldn’t be any documentation for it ‘as it was cash’.
    Tax audit needed then.

  15. Anomanomanom

    Why is this news, Iv said here loads of times about where I work and practices that go. Like adult nappies being bought from certain suppliers at a higher cost than directly buying from the company. Or the CEO, ex ceo who’s now at a different “charity”, getting €21,000 in tops for made up extra job roles. It happens everyday in the hse. My favourite had to be when we found out the donation people worked hard to fundraise were going to pay top ups on senior management pay.

      1. Anomanomanom

        It came out in the paper already. Of course they talked poo and had rehearsed reasons and a bigger scandal came to light and everyone forgot about it.

  16. ROB

    I work for an America firm, and have to take yearly online “ethics” courses, where you click through a bunch of rules (not clicking too fast, otherwise it doesnt register me as having taken the course) and at the end, there is a little case study on an example of how someone did not comply. This prime time investigates reads like a typical example of abuse of position – and opens the door for competitors to bring a case against the HSE. One would also wonder if the HSE was getting the best bang for their (our) buck?

  17. Cate

    “Mr Russell reimbursed the cost of the trip fully to the company by paying around €6,000 cash to Alan Kane.

    Eurosurgical said it had no documentation to support this claim because the cash wasn’t lodged to a bank account.”

    That is as good as sending the Revenue golden invitation saying ‘Audit Me’ we are up to our necks in it.

  18. PDanner

    Ah the forums of the internet, so full of folks with timeshares on the moral high ground. I’d love to see how many of you ‘burn them at the stake’ types with an online saintly persona have never ever made some questionably moral decision that was purely for your own benefit.

    No enough that this guy loses his job and will undoubtedly never work in the field again (that in and of itself would have been justice in the circumstances), or that RTE chose to feed the frenzied crowd with hidden video shots outside the chaps house and naming him, nope he has to endure the venom of dipshits on the internet (with you ahjayzis being the worst, Jesus get over yourself)

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