St Vincent’s may be next to face Public Accounts Committee

TD raises concerns over payments to senior staff

The group comprises St Vincent’s University Hospital (above); an adjacent private hospital in Elm Park, Dublin; and St Michael’s Hospital in Dún Laoghaire.

The group comprises St Vincent’s University Hospital (above); an adjacent private hospital in Elm Park, Dublin; and St Michael’s Hospital in Dún Laoghaire.

Sat, Dec 14, 2013, 01:00

Senior figures in the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group may be called to give evidence before the Dáil Public Accounts Committee after concerns were raised by a TD about payments to senior staff and pension issues.

The group comprises St Vincent’s University Hospital; an adjacent private hospital in Elm Park, Dublin; and St Michael’s Hospital in Dún Laoghaire.

It has previously acknowledged that three of its senior staff were in receipt of additional, unspecified remuneration amounts from private sources.

Yesterday, Fine Gael TD and member of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee Simon Harris raised concerns about the payments and whether the true state of the group’s finances were being revealed in respect of pension liabilities.

“On page six of the organisation’s accounts for the year ending 2011, there is a very strong ‘adverse opinion’ made by the auditors of St Vincent’s,” he says.

“It states that ‘the financial statements do not include the pension costs, pension liabilities and pension assets of those staff who are members of the Voluntary Hospitals Superannuation Scheme as required by Financial Reporting Standard 17’(FRS 17).”

‘True and fair view
“It goes on to state that due to the significance of this matter ‘the financial statements do not give a true and fair view in accordance with generally accepted accounting practice’.”

The hospital group last night said its accounts continued to be qualified in relation to technical compliance with FRS17 in relation to the public sector pension scheme operated in the two public hospitals because the accounts had been prepared as directed by the Minister for Health/Department of Health and not in strict compliance with FRS 17.

“This qualification is replicated in other health bodies with similar pension arrangements and was noted in the Comptroller and Auditor General’s 2009 report on public sector pensions (section 3.28).”

The Department of Health last night said it and the HSE had “no concerns at this time regarding the pension scheme in St Vincent’s University Hospital” .

“St Vincent’s University Hospital is a member of the Voluntary Health Superannuation Scheme, which is a public service pension scheme, funded on a pay-as-you-go basis, which does not have to comply with FRS 17.

“Other section 38 voluntary agencies who are members of this scheme have similar notes and opinions included in their annual financial statements by their auditors.”

Board linked to fundraising
The St Vincent’s hospital group also said that “in light of recent developments”, it was considering whether it was acceptable that some of its board members should also be directors of the fundraising St Vincent’s Foundation.

The group declined to answer questions raised by Mr Harris on whether it was in compliance with the “one person, one salary” requirement under Government pay policy.

It said it had replied to the HSE on a “private and confidential” basis and was actively engaging directly on these matters.

The group said no directors, including staff members, were paid for serving on the board.

It said the provision of €554,377 in its 2011 accounts for directors’ remuneration for other services related to the public salary and private contractual earnings of its group chief executive, Nicholas Jermyn, and the public salaries of two consultant clinicians on the board, Michael Keane and Diarmuid O’Donoghue.

Mr Harris last night said St Vincent’s still had questions to answer and it was essential that its senior figures come before the Dáil Public Accounts Committee so issues could be clarified.