Thursday, March 29, 2012

Two Hepatitis C Support Groups Spent Over €250,000 On Trips

Source: The Irish Times  
Thursday, March 29, 2012


TWO SUPPORT groups for people affected by hepatitis C from contaminated blood products spent more than €250,000 on weekends away, golf trips, pool table hire and conferences in 2010, documents released by the HSE reveal.

Transfusion Positive and Positive Action are both funded by the HSE and receive about €860,000 between them annually. However, the HSE recently restricted funding to both organisations and requested them to provide it with information on their accounts for 2010 and 2011.

Documents received by The Irish Times under a Freedom of Information request, which sought correspondence between the HSE and both groups, reveal that Transfusion Positive spent €132,856 on five weekends away for its members and non-infected family members in Ireland in 2010. Transfusion Positive represents men, women and children infected with hepatitis C through contaminated blood products within the State.

The invoices for the money spent show that in the course of these trips, Transfusion Positive included more than €40,000 in complementary therapies, €1,200 in pool table rental, golf trips worth more than €2,000 and €800 spent on band rentals. On a weekend trip to the Connemara Coast Hotel in Furbo, Co Galway, in October last year, 48 members and 89 non-infected family members, including children, as well as 18 therapists and two facilitators, accrued a total cost of over €46,000. This included €350 for 70 water bottles costing €5 each; and 595 towels, the hire of which cost €892.50. Itemised receipts show that over 30 Penneys, Lifestyle Sports and Claire’s Accessories gift cards worth €15 were also invoiced.

The organisation also accrued €23,434 in conference costs for five members who attended two conferences relating to hepatitis C therapies held in Boston and Vienna.

Positive Action submitted €83,625 in expenses relating to weekends away for members and non-infected family members in 2010.

A further €15,548 in invoices relating to the attendance of four executive members at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases conference held in Boston last year were also filed with the HSE.

A spokeswoman for Positive Action said: “Positive Action has at all times met all appropriate governance and accountability standards.

“Our budget is agreed in advance with the HSE on an annual basis and our funding has always been used in accordance with the pre-approved budget and under the terms of our finance agreement with the HSE.”

Transfusion Positive said it “has always submitted certified audited accounts to the HSE keeping in mind transparency, governance and probity”. The group said it would be “inappropriate to comment any further at this stage as we are in discussions with the Minister and Department of Health/HSE”.

1 comment:

  1. This is deplorable. Every hep C activist I know pours their own blood, sweat, tears and personal funds into this work. Golf and pool? Heck, our nonprofit couldn't or wouldn't pay for a game of Tiddlywinks.