No evidence that HSE agreed CRC top ups, says Reilly
Taoiseach says agencies must ‘answer up’ in scheduled meetings with HSE
Minister for Health Dr James Reilly who said there is no documentation to suggest the HSE had agreed to top up payments made to Central Remedial Clinic executives. Photograph: The Irish Times
“In relation to the allegations that the HSE were aware and had agreed to this, there is no documentation to support the fact that the HSE agreed to this at any juncture,” he said.
Dr Reilly said he would not set up an independent inquiry into the top ups controversy on the basis that an internal inquiry was ongoing.
“I think it is important that the process I commenced last year is allowed to come to its conclusion before we start calling for inquiries. We have revealed a huge amount of information here. We are bringing transparency to the system and that transparency is now bringing accountability and that will result in a much fairer system,” he said.
The Minister said that at a meeting yesterday he was briefed by the director general of the HSE, Tony O’Brien who told him that he had “17 top people” in the HSE working across the Section 38 agencies, a term which encompasses voluntary hospitals and other independent health agencies which receive funding from the Department of Health.
“This issue is seen as critically important to them...there isn’t one rule for one group of people and a different rule for everybody else,” he said.
Mr Reilly said the Department of Health would use mechanisms available to it, including the service level agreement to ensure that pay caps are adhered to.
However, he said any actions would not impact on service user. “I don’t believe that the past method of dealing with situations like this, where funding was cut to the institution which hurt the individuals who are being served by that institution, is correct. Let us punish those who are in breach,” he said.
Mr Reilly’s comments appear to contradict those made yesterday by a former chair of the CRC, Des Peelo, who said that two of the “very top people” in the HSE attended a meeting in 2009 at which privately-funded top-up payments for nine people in the organisation were agreed to.
Speaking on Today with Sean O’Rourke on RTE Radio 1 Mr Peelo said that, in a meeting held in June 2009, the HSE had agreed to fund the salaries up to the end of that year after which point the difference over and above the HSE-funded portion of the salaries would be funded privately.