Hospital consultants may not have been qualified

HSE audit finds two consultants hired through agency may not be specialists

The audit did not identify the hospital or consultants, but it indicated it was referring to the HSE south/southeast region. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The audit did not identify the hospital or consultants, but it indicated it was referring to the HSE south/southeast region. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

A significant risk that two consultants appointed through an agency to work in a public hospital were not suitably qualified has been highlighted in a HSE internal audit report.

The report also raised issues as to whether payments made by the HSE in respect of the consultants were fully tax compliant.

The audit did not identify the hospital or the consultants, although it indicated it was referring to the HSE south/southeast region.

It said the two consultants, identified only as consultant one and consultant two, occupied long-term vacant posts. The audit discovered from Medical Council records the two consultants were listed as having a general registration and no specialist registration.

It said a letter of approval for the position found on the personal file of consultant one included a requirement that the doctor concerned must be registered as a specialist.

Consultant two

“In early January 2013, audit sought confirmation regarding the registration of these two individuals. However no response has yet been received. Given that the terms and conditions of the contract placement between the agency [identified as agency B] are limited only to payment issues and do not cover screening or specialist qualification requirements, there is a significant risk that candidates placed for employment are not suitably qualified.”

Suitably qualified

The audit said agency B was based in London and was not registered for VAT, PAYE, PRSI or USC deductions in Ireland.

A second agency, known as agency C, had offices in the Isle of Man and was registered for tax in Ireland.

It said during 2013 agency C ceased invoicing in respect of the two consultants while simultaneously agency B, which up to that point had been invoicing on the basis of providing a recruitment service only, began invoicing for the contracted pay elements also.

The audit said it “remains unclear, despite request for clarification, what arrangements agency B put in place to ensure all statutory deductions were handed over to Revenue in respect of these payments”.