Taoiseach ‘annoyed’ at breaches of health pay policy

More than half of country’s voluntary hospitals and health agencies breaching policy

Sat, Nov 23, 2013, 18:49




Taoiseach Enda Kenny this evening said he was annoyed at the revelations about the top-up payments to senior health service figures.

More than half of the country’s voluntary hospitals and health agencies are breaching Government pay policy by supplementing the salaries of senior executives, new figures have shown.

The Taoiseach said: “As I said on many occasions already, top-up payments that were not authorised, that were unapproved and that came from non-exchequer funding sources, that breached the public service pay agreement, have to be dealt with.”

“Of course I’m annoyed. I’ve made that very clear already. In all these cases there’s a due process to be gone through of course. That process is now underway and will be dealt with effectively and comprehensively.”

Mr Kenny was speaking before he addressed Young Fine Gael’s national conference in Waterford this evening.

Figures released by Minister for Health James Reilly last night indicate that 24 of the 44 voluntary State-funded organisations have told the Health Service Executive they are topping up approved rates of pay for senior staff with either public or private funds.

The Department of Health has declined to identify the organisations breaching pay policy. The HSE is expected to verify the statements made by hospitals about whether they are complying with pay policy or otherwise.

Dr Reilly said a further eight institutions had not yet indicated whether they are paying extra allowances to senior executives.“Until such time as the situation in each organisation has been fully verified, none of these organisations can be deemed fully compliant,” he said.


Top-up payments
The Minister’s comments came amid continuing controversy over revelations in The Irish Times over top-up payments made by voluntary hospitals and agencies to senior executives over and above their HSE-funded salaries.

Government pay policy states that voluntary hospitals and health agencies funded under section 38 of the Health Act 2004 may not supplement approved rates of remuneration with public or private funding.

However, State-funded voluntary organisations can make a business case to retain existing additional payments that are being made to senior managers. The Minister also said he has directed the HSE to investigate whether payments to senior managers in another category of healthcare organisations which receive public funds – known as section 39 bodies – are in line with Government pay policy.Employees in these bodies are not public servants and are not specifically subject to public-service pay scales.

The Irish Times reported earlier this week that the chief executive of Our Lady’s hospital in Crumlin was receiving an additional €30,000 from profits from shops on the campus.


‘Privately funded allowances’
Other details later emerged over substantial additional payments in “privately funded allowances” made to senior figures in other hospitals such as the National Maternity Hospital and in the disability sector.

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee is to commence hearings into top-up payments next Wednesday.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said yesterday that voluntary hospitals and health agencies which did not respond to HSE inquiries about top-up income by this week’s deadline would be asked to give a full account of their payment practices.

Mr Kenny said the Government had made it clear that unapproved funding used as top- ups in breach of the public pay process had to come to an end.

“Clearly we will call in those who did not respond to the HSE. A report will be presented to the Minister for Health. That report will be published and this event will be dealt with comprehensively and conclusively.”

Much controversy has centred on €45,000 that was paid to the master of the National Maternity Hospital Rhona Mahony, on top of a salary of more than €280,000.

A spokesman for Dr Mahony said the source of this funding was for seeing private patients and her remuneration as master was in compliance with public service pay requirements.