Department told of senior health service top-ups in 2012

FF claims details withheld but Department of Health says it took a year to get HSE report

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher said he would be writing to the Ceann Comhairle to seek an investigation.

Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher said he would be writing to the Ceann Comhairle to seek an investigation.

Wed, Feb 19, 2014, 07:00

Officials at the highest levels in the Department of Health were made aware of top-up payments being paid to the then head of the Central Remedial Clinic Paul Kiely and other senior health service figures more than a year before a HSE audit into the issue was published.

Internal Department of Health correspondence, marked confidential, reveals senior officials, including secretary general Ambrose McLoughlin, were briefed on June 6th, 2012, on the HSE’s initial investigations into senior level pay in voluntary hospitals and health agencies.

This briefing was provided by the HSE after a parliamentary question was tabled by Fianna Fáil TD Billy Kelleher seeking details of top-up payments to senior managers in the health sector. However, Fianna Fáil said last night the Department of Health had not provided the information it had available to it.

‘Concerning’

The department file says that among the details provided by the HSE to it after Mr Kelleher tabled his question, was that Mr Kiely was “in receipt of payments amounting of €136,000 p.a. in addition to official salary of €106,000”. The HSE also told the department the chief executive of Stewarts Hospital was receiving €174,000 – “well in excess of the rate for such a post”.

The file describes the initial indications as “concerning”. Details of the HSE audit into top-up payments were first revealed in The Irish Times last September.

Mr Kelleher said the Department of Health had withheld the information and he would be writing to the Ceann Comhairle to seek an investigation.

A Department of Health spokesman said that in June 2012 “all we had was the initial early indications of an exercise to quantify the existence of top up payments in Section 38 agencies” and that the matter had not yet even gone to the HSE Audit Committee.

“Much more work needed to be done and it took a further year before we were in receipt of a fully verified report from the HSE into the matter,” he said.

The spokesman said it was on the basis of this report that a robust policy document was composed which “has allowed the current exercise to bring agencies into compliance”.

“ It would not have been appropriate to provide a few initial indications in June of 2012. Indeed it might have hindered the current successful work of the HSE in ensuring compliance.”