Mater rejects CRC claim over €660,000 pension payments

Oireachtas committee told fees relate to fund which no longer exists

Independent TD Shane Ross arriving at Leinster House to attend the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing today. He said it was “outrageous” that the Mater was, in effect, charging fees for administering a “phantom fund”.  Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Independent TD Shane Ross arriving at Leinster House to attend the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearing today. He said it was “outrageous” that the Mater was, in effect, charging fees for administering a “phantom fund”. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Thu, Dec 12, 2013, 08:18

The Mater Hospital in Dublin last night rejected comments made by the CRC’s former chief executive Paul Kiely about CRC payments to the Mater in connection with a pension fund.

Mr Kiely told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee that the CRC paid the Mater a premium of up to 13 per cent of employees’ salaries annually for the Mater to administer a pension fund known as the Voluntary Hospitals Superannuated Scheme.

However, he said this scheme no longer operated. Deputy Shane Ross said it was “outrageous” that the Mater was, in effect, charging fees for administering a “phantom fund”.

Mr Kiely said he had sought repeatedly to cease the arrangement. “No one wanted to know,” he said. “The Department of Health didn’t want to know.”

Mr Kiely added that he had been told the payment related to a legal agreement dating back several decades.

But the Mater last night said the payment related directly to the Voluntary Hospital Superannuation Scheme (VHSS) administered by the Mater hospital on behalf of 181 CRC staff members.

Liability “The CRC’s Employer Contribution to the scheme on behalf of its staff members was €660,000 in 2012,” it said.

The liability for the pension payments to those CRC staff in the scheme will rest with the Mater Hospital in perpetuity.

“This arrangement, on behalf of the CRC staff, dates back to the mid 1970s, when the CRC first sought Department of Health funding. For technical and legal reasons the Department of Health could not at that time provide any funding to the CRC as it was not deemed to be a hospital.

“In order to overcome this difficulty a decision was made that all funding to the CRC should be provided through a voluntary hospital. The Mater Hospital, being the nearest hospital to the CRC, with joint clinical commitments, was chosen to be the channel for such funding.

“In the early 2,000s the Department of Health altered this approach and decided to no longer pay its CRC funding though the Mater Hospital.”

However, the CRC staff from that time continued to hold their membership of the Voluntary Hospitals Superannuation Scheme as there was no alternative public sector pension scheme available to them.

This scheme has continued for those CRC staff members of which there are 181.

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