Reilly ‘aware’ of pay breaches in several health agencies

Minister responds to revelations about top-up payments to health sector bosses

Dr James Reilly: said only five organisations had replied to a circular letter issued at the end of September. Photograph: Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Dr James Reilly: said only five organisations had replied to a circular letter issued at the end of September. Photograph: Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

Tue, Nov 19, 2013, 15:10

Minister for Health James Reilly said he is aware of a number of “arrangements” in State-fund hospitals and health agencies which may breach official policy on pay for senior executives.

He was speaking in the wake of revelations about extra payments to health sector bosses, one of which involved Our Lady’s in Crumlin, which has been paying its chief executive a top-up allowance of €30,000 per year funded from the profits of shops on the campus.

Dr Reilly said the revelation about Crumlin hospital was “by no means the full story.”

“There are certain other arrangements that I’m aware of that certainly need to be corrected and brought into line with public health policy and pay policy.”

Figures released by the Department of Health show one in four of the country’s 43 State-funded voluntary hospitals and health agencies have told the Government they are breaching official policy on pay for senior executives.

Senior staff working in State-funded disability and maternity services are receiving total packages of well over €200,000 per year in some cases.

The total remuneration in many cases is made up of a combination of HSE-funded salaries and top-up payments from private sources, such as the proceeds from on-campus retail outlets.

Fianna Fáil public expenditure spokesman Sean Fleming today responded to revelations about the scale of top-up payments warned about the threat of the revelations to voluntary fundraising efforts across the country.

Mr Fleming called on Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin to clarify whether these additional payments were dealt with during the Haddington Road process and to explain why frontline cuts were implemented before dealing with these inflated salaries.

“People across the country will listen to these latest revelations about top-up payments for the most senior health sector executives with a mixture of incredulity and anger.”

Department of Health files dated from May this year – and which predate cuts introduced under the Haddington Road agreement – show for the first time the level of earnings of senior managers in voluntary hospitals and health agencies.

A number of health bodies last night disputed the details set out in the Department of Health figures that were drawn up as part of a recent HSE internal audit. However senior health service sources maintained the figures were those which the agencies had themselves submitted.

At the end of September, the HSE asked the voluntary hospitals and agencies to confirm that executive pay was in line with Government policy.

Internal HSE figures show that 10 agencies indicated that they were breaching pay policy. The HSE figures also show that six agencies confirmed they were in compliance, while 11 others had not replied by early November. The HSE has taken this as an indication that they were in compliance.