Senator Crown accuses St Vincent's of cover-up over cancer drugs

Thursday 19 December 2013 23.06
Prof John Crown has called for an investigation into the matter
Prof John Crown has called for an investigation into the matter

Independent Senator John Crown has accused the management and board of St Vincent's Hospital of a cover-up in relation to money that was fraudulently taken by members of staff from the Vhi and other private insurers from 2002.

Professor Crown, who works at the hospital, said he learned that members of staff had been deliberately and fraudulently charging private health insurers for cancer drugs, which had been given to the hospital for free.

He notified the relevant authority at the time, the Irish Medicines Board, and an investigation was started but was stopped and "reformatted" several days later.

Documentation has come into his possession recently that, he claims, shows conclusively that there was a cover-up by the management and board of St Vincent's in respect of this.

He has called for an investigation into the matter and for the details to be brought to the attention of the Minister for Health.

St Vincent's Healthcare Group said it has written to Senator Crown to ask him to provide details of his allegations.

In a statement, the group’s chairman said an independent investigation by PriceWaterhouse Coopers found no evidence of collusion or fraud by staff or within the hospital.

In a statement, Vhi Healthcare said it was made aware in 2002 that charges had been raised for high-cost cancer drugs, which a provider had received free of charge.

The company said it engaged PWC to investigate the issue and had recouped all of the monies, over €1m, that had been raised incorrectly.

Vhi Healthcare said it has a Special Claims Investigations Unit, which is "dedicated to ensuring that incidences of error or overcharging by healthcare providers are fully investigated and rectified".