Extra healthcare payments evolved over the years

Analysis: Remuneration in some hospitals no longer reflects scale of operations

Internal files state that three senior managers at St Vincent’s University Hospital were in receipt of additional remuneration from private sources. The HSE-funded salary for the chief executive of St Vincent’s is €145,959. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Internal files state that three senior managers at St Vincent’s University Hospital were in receipt of additional remuneration from private sources. The HSE-funded salary for the chief executive of St Vincent’s is €145,959. Photograph: Dave Meehan

Mon, Nov 18, 2013, 01:05

Senior managers in State-funded voluntary hospitals and health agencies – officially known as section 38 organisations – are public servants.

However, for years the full remuneration package of senior executives in these bodies remained a closely guarded secret in many cases. But over recent months a flood of detail has been emerging.

The picture reveals a complex pattern of pay rates which evolved over years and which do not necessarily reflect the size and scale of the organisations today.

In several instances, the rates paid differ from the official pay scales published by the Department of Health, with some organisations providing senior staff with non-sanctioned benefits such as private health insurance cover, motor and travel allowances, and payments for serving on boards or as a company secretary.

Several agencies said they had received verbal approval from the department over the years for these payments. However there is no documentary evidence in official files.

The Irish Times reported last September that a Health Service Executive internal audit investigation had found that funding to pay for these additional top-up benefits was being drawn from both State money and from externally provided resources.


Allowances
Auditors found at least 36 types of allowance and benefit including health insurance, extra duties and on-call payments were being made by voluntary hospitals and agencies to managers from HSE funds at a cost of €3.224 million. In some cases, State funding was used to make contributions – ranging from 6 to 46 per cent of salary – into private pension schemes.

Auditors found 13 organisations were paying additional remuneration and benefits (including top-up salary and allowances ) to 34 managers from private sources. In one case the audit found privately generated funds were being used to pay for a non-pensionable annual allowance for an executive in respect of performance in a public hospital.

Virtually at the same time as The Irish Times published the internal audit finding, the department issued a new policy circular aimed at clamping down on such top-up benefits.

It said salary scales had to be adhered to strictly and that non-exchequer funding could not be used to supplement approved levels of remuneration. However, it did allow agencies to make a case to retain non-standard allowances for five years.

While the audit gave details of the type of allowances and top-up payments and the locations where they were provided, it did not set out the actual levels of remuneration for individual managers.

However, internal department files show the actual level of remuneration, including basic HSE-funded salary and any top-up allowances or payments applying to hundreds of management posts, across the various section 38 organisations. It is likely the rates set out in the file do not take account of pay cuts under the Haddington Road agreement. The file gives details of the €30,000 allowance paid to the chief executive of Crumlin hospital from income generated by shops on the campus.

The department files also state three senior managers at St Vincent’s University Hospital were in receipt of additional remuneration from private sources. The HSE-funded salary for the chief executive of St Vincent’s is €145,959.

A spokesman said: “At St Vincent’s Healthcare Group, compensation for the additional work carried out for the group over and above public- sector obligations is paid from revenues from St Vincent’s Private Hospital. The compensation does not involve any public funds or any funds from the foundation or other donated funds.”