Warning to HSE on pay ceiling for managers

Wed, Sep 26, 2012, 01:00

THE DEPARTMENT of Public Expenditure and Reform has warned that pay proposals for new top-level managers in the HSE will need to take account of the Government’s ceiling of €200,000 per year.

Official documents show the department approved an allowance of €29,000 for the new deputy chief executive of the HSE, Tony O’Brien, on his appointment last month. However, it said this was not to be pensionable.

Mr O’Brien is in effect running the HSE and is expected to be appointed as its first director general when the necessary legislation is passed. The new allowance brought his salary to €194,950.

The allowance is to take account of his additional responsibilities in his new role.

However, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform told the Department of Health that no additional elements such as a performance bonus, pension, car or other expenses that could be deemed to be a component of a remuneration package could be sanctioned for Mr O’Brien by the HSE board, the HSE or the Department of Health.

It also said the allowance had to be met from within the existing allocation to the health service.

In his application for the allowance, the Department of Health secretary general, Ambrose McLoughlin, indicated that a detailed submission would be made in relation to the salary level/terms and conditions to apply for the substantive post of HSE director general when the post was formally created.

The Department responded that this should have regard to Government pay policy, the amount sanctioned in this case and the need for headroom between the amounts paid to senior managers at various levels in the HSE.

Meanwhile, a special adviser employed by the Department of Health to reduce patient waiting lists has earned €370,000 since February 2011, according to Minister for Health James Reilly.

Martin Connor, who works 80 per cent of his time for the department, is being paid €40,000 every three months.

Until recently he spent two weeks a month in Ireland but also works for the department by tele-conference from the US, where he is completing a research fellowship at Stanford University, the department said earlier this year.

Dr Connor’s company, Value Based Solutions, was paid €250,000 for a six-month contract between June and November last year, Dr Reilly told Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher. The company was then engaged on a three-year contract worth €400,000, of which €120,000 has been paid so far.

“Neither contract stipulates a set weekly number of hours but rather sets out the services that should be provided,” he said.

Dr Reilly said that since Dr Connor had been engaged, significant progress had been made in reducing waiting times. Overall waiting list numbers were down 7 per cent and the number of patients on trolleys in hospital emergency departments was 22 per cent lower so far this year.

Another consultant brought in by the department to work in the Special Delivery Unit, set up to cut waiting lists, is Lis Nixon and she has been paid €82,000 since February 2011, the Minister also said.

Ms Nixon is employed on a full-time three-year contract worth €164,000 a year. “Ms Nixon has an extremely impressive CV and was appointed through an open and transparent procurement process. An earlier open recruitment process failed to secure a candidate of sufficient calibre.”

Ms Nixon, who has more than 10 years’ experience in change management and service improvement in the NHS in Britain, is free to do work outside the department under the terms of her contract.