HSE paid contractor €258,000 for work previously carried out for €80,000, says union

Impact says amount is in excess of the salary paid to HSE secretary general Tony O’Brien

Student nurses and midwives protesting outside Dr Steven’s Hospital to highlight the pay and working conditions of student/intern nurses and midwives: “The rest of the workforce has endured the full brunt of austerity measures applied within the public service,” says Impact assistant general secretary Andy Pike. Photograph: Eric Luke

Student nurses and midwives protesting outside Dr Steven’s Hospital to highlight the pay and working conditions of student/intern nurses and midwives: “The rest of the workforce has endured the full brunt of austerity measures applied within the public service,” says Impact assistant general secretary Andy Pike. Photograph: Eric Luke

Sat, May 17, 2014, 01:29

The Dáil Public Accounts Committee is investigating a claim a HSE hospital group has paid one of its managers €258,000 over a 13-month period since last year.

The individual is employed as a contractor in the University of Limerick Hospitals Group and has responsibilities in relation to six hospitals in the group.

The trade union Impact has written to the committee expressing its concern over the arrangement, pointing out the amount is in excess of the salary paid to HSE secretary general Tony O’Brien.

According to the union, the contractor was paid €258,000 between March 2013 and April 2014, equivalent to €238,000 a year. It claims the same work was previously carried out by salaried staff of the HSE earning about €80,000 per annum.

A HSE spokesman said the contractor was being paid €700 a day for services to the group. At the start of this year, he took on additional duties when another senior manager left, without any additional remuneration.

Suitable calibre
He said the group engaged an outside contractor

in order to fill the position with someone of suitable calibre. He was unable last night to provide a global figure for payments to the contractor, who is paid through a registered company.

In a letter to PAC chairman John McGuinness TD, Impact says it has photographs of the record of payments to the contractor.

“The current situation is causing anger and frustration on the part of hundreds of hospital staff,” Impact assistant general secretary Andy Pike says in the letter.

“The rest of the workforce has endured the full brunt of austerity measures applied within the public service.”

Mr Pike said the chief executive of the group, Ann Doherty, had made commendable progress in improving access to services, despite opposition from consultants and, at times, unions.

“Notwithstanding those barriers, changes have been made, mostly for the better, [but] there is still a shortage of beds, a significant budget overrun and overcrowding in the Dooradoyle A&E department.”

The HSE has been unable to fill senior positions in a number of the newly formed hospital groups because of a lack of suitably qualified applicants.