HSE to privatise payroll operations

Thu, Nov 8, 2012, 00:00

The Health Service Executive is to outsource central payroll operations for its 100,000 staff as a cost-saving measure, The Irish Times has learned.

 

The privatisation of payroll operations and the related support infrastructure will proceed by way of a tender process, according to a circular sent to affected staff late last month.

Liam Woods, HSE national finance director, said the decision was made with consideration of the challenge of managing ongoing operational costs.

Other factors were the requirement to reduce the number of staff employed in the health sector by 6,500 by 2014 and “ongoing restructuring, rationalisation and streamlining of services in line with core business needs to maximise productivity and efficiency”.

Mr Woods said there would be a formal engagement process with the Impact trade union in accordance with the Croke Park agreement before the change takes place. The HSE is working on a business plan which requires the agreement of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Sinn Féin health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said the HSE was clearly acting under the direction of Minister for Health James Reilly.

"This information will come as no surprise to those of us who have long believed that Dr Reilly's so-called reform agenda is based on an American rather than a European model, with increased private sector involvement in all aspects of the healthcare infrastructure and services provision," he said.

The proposal is being resisted by Impact staff who met yesterday to plan a campaign of resistance. Assistant general secretary Robbie Ryan told staff the measure was “neither acceptable nor necessary”. The union has said it accepts the concept of shared services across the HSE using a single payroll model.

“Unfortunately, it seems that the meaning of shared services has become confused with outsourcing in this case,” according to Mr Ryan.

Mr Ryan said the outsourcing could only be contemplated in circumstances where all other courses of action had been exhausted. This was not the case in this instance as no realistic exploration of possible in-house solutions had been carried out.

He also warned of serious implications for data protection if payroll was outsourced.

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