Health chiefs face questions on €3 million top-up payments

Chair of PAC says ‘a wink and nod is not good enough’

John McGuinness

John McGuinness

Fri, Sep 27, 2013, 13:39

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) is to investigate the payment of more than €3 million to senior executives in State-funded voluntary hospitals and agencies in allowances and benefits on top of salary.

The chairman of the Public Accounts Committee John McGuinness said today that it had been waiting for the completion of the report by HSE internal audit into these payments and would question senior health service figures on the findings .

The HSE is due to come before the Public Accounts Committee in November.

Mr McGuinness said he would be concerned at suggestions in the report that some agencies maintained they had received verbal approval from the Department of Health to breach official pay rates.

The report found that such agreements were not documented in Department of Health files.

Mr McGuinness said that good governance would indicate that all files should be written and that “a wink and nod is not good enough”.

The report found that managers in voluntary hospitals and agencies in the health sector were receiving additional allowances and benefits financed from both State funds and private sources.

Among the top-up payments and benefits being provided using funds allocated by the HSE to the voluntary bodies are private health insurance cover, motor allowances and extra duty allowances.

The report said there are at least 36 specific allowances and additional benefits being paid by agencies from HSE funds at a cost of €3.224 million.

The unpublished report also maintained that 13 agencies were paying €912,000 to nearly 50 managers in top-up salary, allowances and benefits from private funds separate to the State allocations to the voluntary organisations. The report said that some agencies were paying contributions of up to 46.6 per cent of salary into the private pension plans of managers as they had not been accepted into State superannuation schemes.

The 70-page report investigated remuneration of senior managers in organisations known as “Section 38 agencies”, which include voluntary acute hospitals and voluntary agencies providing services for people with disabilities.


Pay scales
The report said at least 36 separate allowances were being paid to nearly 250 managers in voluntary agencies.. It said some of the allowances such as for health insurance were not contained in sanctioned public service pay scales.

It found thatsome agencies were paying “on call-type allowances” to non-clinical management.

A total of 12 managers in six institutions received private health insurance cover at a cost of €34,654.

Four executives in one agency shared €89,415 as a “contribution to hospital management group allowance”.

Two senior staff members in one agency received €53,065 between them as an allowance for additional management duties.

The report said most of the non-standard allowances dated back to before the establishment of the HSE. The report said that payments for chief executives evolved over many years on a agency-by-agency basis. It said thatin cases where management pay exceeded theofficial scales, the agencies argued that they had received verbal approval in the past from the Department of Health. However, the report saidthere were no records of such agreements in the department’s files.