Home help provider responds to HSE audit findings

Questions raised about payments to staff at Fingal Home Care, which receives €5.5m from State

Fingal Home Care, a not-for-profit company which receives funding of €5.5 million a year from the HSE, says it is in a secure position to provide services and is looking forward to a ‘more secure future’. File photograph: Getty Images

Fingal Home Care, a not-for-profit company which receives funding of €5.5 million a year from the HSE, says it is in a secure position to provide services and is looking forward to a ‘more secure future’. File photograph: Getty Images

Fri, Apr 4, 2014, 19:28

A leading provider of home help has sought to reassure clients and staff after a HSE audit raised questions about salary, bonuses, travel allowance, pension and credit card spending in the organisation.

Fingal Home Care, a not-for-profit company which receives funding of €5.5 million a year from the HSE, says it is in a secure position to provide services and is looking forward to a “more secure future”.

In a statement, the company said concerns about serious financial issues were raised in 2012. “These posed serious risk to the company at that time and are now the subject of an ongoing Garda investigation.”

Once these concerns were identified, the board immediately carried out its own investigation and the findings of auditors and outside consultants were brought to the attention of the Garda Síochána. This was reported by The Irish Times last year.

“Since then, the company has been through an extensive process of restructuring and this is now almost complete,” the statement continued.

The HSE audit found that in 2011 the former manager was being paid €106,000, when the appropriate pay level in the health sector should have been about €55,000. In addition, the manager was in receipt of a bonus payment of almost €10,000, unvouched travel payments of €700 per month, a pension contribution of €16,000 and a once-off payment of €37,000, giving an overall payment that year of about €180,000, RTE’s Prime Time programme reported earlier this week.

Concerns were also raised about spending on a credit card and purchases made in an electrical store.

The HSE said the audit uncovered a number of governance and financial issues in the company “of serious and immediate concern”. The quality of care provided by Fingal to clients was not an issue.

Home and Community Care Ireland, which represents private providers of home care, said it was shocked at the revelations in the audit report. It called on the Minister for Health and the HSE to urgently address, in the interest of the older population, the way Section 39 organisations such as Fingal Home Care were funded.

“This is the third such report into a state funded home help organisation with a fourth damning report expected to be published shortly,” said HCCI chairman Michael Harty.

At one point, Fingal Home Care was losing €8,000 a week, but the company said that since the concerns were raised, it has returned to a trading profit and staff numbers now exceed 300. Staff took a 5 per cent pay cut in mid-2012 and a further 10 per cent cut since then.