Hospital board asks councillor to resign

Dr Rhona Mahony says €45,000 allowance was from private patients

The National Maternity Hospital Holles Street. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

The National Maternity Hospital Holles Street. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Sat, Nov 23, 2013, 14:10


A member of the board of the National Maternity Hospital has been formally asked to resign after being accused of making “ill-informed public commentary” regarding top-up payments to senior health sector executives.

Councillor Pat Crimmins (FG), a member of the hospital board, earlier this week said he was unaware that the master of Holles Street, Dr Rhona Mahony, received more than €280,000, including a privately funded allowance of €45,000.

‘Extraordinary behaviour’
Yesterday, Mr Crimmins received a letter from the deputy chair of the hospital board, Niall Doyle, requesting him to resign on the basis of what was described as his “extraordinary behaviour”.

The letter stated that as a member of the executive, it would have been appropriate for him to have attended a board meeting earlier in the week to contribute his views on the matter.

It also stated that his public commentary to both RTÉ radio and television was inappropriate. On foot of this, he was formally requested to consider his position as a member of the board.

Mr Crimmins said he was taking legal advice over the letter before deciding whether to resign. He defended his decision to question the source of private money being given to senior health executives.

“I’m a councillor and a public representative. I feel I’m being gagged for saying what I believed to be appropriate. I didn’t accuse the board or Holles Street of anything,” he said.

A spokesman for the National Maternity Hospital last night confirmed that a letter had been sent, but declined to comment further than a statement issued earlier in the week.

In this statement, Dr Mahony said the €45,000 “privately funded allowance” a HSE internal audit revealed she was receiving came from fees for seeing private patients.

She said her remuneration as master was “strictly in line” with her contract and was exactly in compliance with public service pay requirements for her position.

Asked last night whether the private patients referred to by Dr Mahony were her own private patients, a spokesman again said she would not be adding anything further to the statement.

Private patients
This statement said: “The €45,000 paid to me, and labelled by the media as a ‘top-up’, is in respect of professional fees from private patients attending the National Maternity Hospital.

“With regard to this, I have the same contractual terms as all other medical consultants in the Irish health service who have the same contract.

“The existence of this income has been reported to the HSE in May 2012 as part of a routine confidential internal audit carried out by the HSE. To be absolutely clear, I have never received any additional remuneration from the health service or any other source, including fundraising and charitable donations,” she said.

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