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Government Waste: Blood board to write off €740,000 computer upgrade

Friday February 1st, from John Downes in the Irish Times:

The Irish Blood Transfusion Board has confirmed it has abandoned plans to upgrade a computer system that monitors the progress of blood products, a move which has led it to write off in the region of €740,000 of taxpayers’ money.

The computer system was to be an upgrade of its Progresa system, which was introduced in 2003, following a number of blood-related scandals.

The system tracks and monitors blood products from the time they are collected until the time they are issued to hospitals.

The introduction of the upgrade had been expected to cost over €3.1 million.

However, a spokeswoman for the board said that due to technical difficulties, the decision had been taken last March not to proceed with the upgrade to the Progresa system.

This required the board to write off a total of €740,000, she said, adding that details of the decision had been in the public domain for some time.

Speaking on RTÉ yesterday, the chief executive of the board, Andrew Kelly, said there was never any threat to the blood supply arising out of the failure to introduce the system, which never went live.

“No organisation wants to write off taxpayers’ money,” he said.

The spokeswoman for the board also confirmed that it has commissioned a report by KPMG consultants into the matter, and that the Comptroller and Auditor and General, John Purcell, is also examining the issue.

The Labour Party’s spokeswoman on health, Jan O’Sullivan TD, last night welcomed the intervention of the C&AG on the matter.

She said she was anxious that he would establish whether the board had done sufficient preparatory work in advance of deciding to introduce the upgrade.

“The main concern I would have is in relation to the money aspect, as it does not seem that patient care was in any way affected,” she said. “This is a reasonably large sum of money, and I welcome the fact that the C&AG is interested in finding out what happened.”

She said it was important to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the problems encountered by the board.

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