The internal audit unit of the Health Service Executive has said that the HSE's acquisition of primary care centres lacked openness, transparency and equality of treatment.

A review of a sample of primary care centres in the Dublin Mid-Leinster area has identified a number of what it called "high risk" concerns.

In the report secured by RTÉ under a Freedom of Information request, it said that the concerns had implications for the acquisition of primary care centres nationally.

The internal audit identified what it said was "significant inadequacies and deficiencies in the level and standard of documentation, files and records maintained by the HSE estates in Dublin mid-leinster, in the area of primary care centre acquisition".

The audit team also said it encountered "significant delays" in obtaining information from HSE management during the audit, which was finalised at the end of last year.

The team looked at the selection process for five primary care centres in the area.

It found that some submissions were accepted after closing dates.

There was no evidence of who was appointed to carry out important evaluations and there were no scoring sheets of the submissions on the files sampled by the audit team.

The audit revealed that some of the primary care centres were below the acceptable size and others did not have the required number of GPs signed up to take over a lease.

The auditors found there was "inconsistency in the application of the criteria in the files sampled".

In their reply to the auditors, the local area management for Dublin Mid-Leinster said they "acknowledged the inadequacy of the documentation and files".

They said this was "due to a significant lack of administrative support available to the estates department".

Management have accepted the recommendations contained in the report for stronger controls in future.