60 health managers claiming entitlement to top-up payments

PAC hears individuals are seeking to have payments continued on individualised basis

Former chairman of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) Hamilton Goulding has said his board was effectively dismissed at a few hours notice last December. Screengrab: Oireachtas

Former chairman of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) Hamilton Goulding has said his board was effectively dismissed at a few hours notice last December. Screengrab: Oireachtas

Thu, Jul 3, 2014, 15:23

A total of 60 senior managers in voluntary hospitals and health agencies are claiming to have contractual entitlements to retain additional or top-up payments over and above the official rate for their positions.

The deputy director general of the HSE Laverne McGuinness told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee that they were seeking to have the payments continued on an individualised or “red circled” basis.

She said that documentation had been submitted to support these assertions and that discussions on this may be required with the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

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Ms McGuinness said that in a further 18 cases, supporting documentation had not been submitted.

She told the committee in an interim report that top up payments had ceased in respect of 43 health executives.

The beginning of July was the deadline set by the HSE for the ending of top up payments to voluntary hospital and health agency managers.

Separately, the former chairman of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) told the committee this morning his board was effectively dismissed at a few hours notice last December.

Hamilton Goulding said he board was told at a meeting in HSE headquarters on December 13th that unless it resigned immediately, funding provided by the health authority would be withdrawn from the CRC.

“The resignations were tendered directly because the board’s position was untenable, its primary concern being not to allow any impediment to the continued funding by the HSE of the CRC, which would effectively shut down the clinic.”

Mr Goulding said he wanted to apologise for any shortcomings or inadequacies on his part in dealing with the governance and pay controversies that affected the clinic over the past year. However he said he had a clear conscience.

Last month a report drawn up by an interim administrator, appointed to run the CRC following the resignation of its then chief executive and board last December, maintained that senior executives avoided the full impact of public service pay cuts imposed on other staff because the organisation artificially split their salaries between amounts funded by the HSE and that generated from its fundraising arm.

It said the organisation had operated a separate payroll for executives, in addition to the one in place for other personnel.

The report by the interim administrator John Cregan said that in some years, funding for a portion of the remuneration of senior executives came from a donation provided by the CRC’s fundraising arm, the Friends and Supporters group.

The report maintained that the former CRC chief executive Paul Kiely received a pay increase of 2.5 per cent under the national agreement in September 2008, to bring his overall pay to €234,449.

If the pay cuts introduced across the public service under emergency legislation in January 2010 had been put in place in full, his salary should have fallen to €199,282.

However, the report said no cut was applied to the €118,449 he received as part of the “private CRC” component of his pay. A cut of €10,600 was put in place in relation to his “agreed HSE” pay.

This resulted in him receiving an overall salary of €223,849.

The report says the proper application of the financial emergency legislation/Croke Park agreement cuts on public service pay to Mr Kiely would have “reduced the burden on the CRC private funds by €24,567 per annum”.

It says a further €22,000 would have been saved if the full cuts had been put in place in relation to the salaries of other executives at the CRC.

Mr Kiely retired a year ago with an overall severance package of €741,000.

The report said Mr Kiely himself presented his exit terms to the then CRC chairman and these were adopted “without amendment” by the board.

The administrator argued that money paid in excess of the reduced rate should be recovered, saying Mr Kiely “would have been familiar with a public pay policy diligently applied” to other CRC staff.