Consultant surgeon earns €736,000 from HSE

HSE chief financial officer Stephen Mulvany says the situation was ‘truly exceptional’

A consultant surgeon was paid almost €736,000 in salary, on-call allowances and other payments last year, the Dáil Public Accounts Committee has heard.

The unnamed consultant received €155,000 in salary, €334,215 in on-call payments and €246,774 in other payments, TDs were told. HSE chief financial officer Stephen Mulvany said the situation was "truly exceptional" and arose when a four-person surgical team was reduced to one. The experienced consultant was effectively on call every night in a hospital with a 24/7 emergency department, he said.

Other payments

The other payments were made for keeping the waiting list for endoscopies down. Mr Mulvany said it was seen as essential that additional tests were performed so the hospital adhered to the four-week target time for urgent referrals, in case these led to the detection of cancer. He said the situation had since been resolved and the staffing in the team increased.

Committee chairman John McGuinness wondered aloud “did this consultant get to bed at all”. The highest overtime payment of €144,000 last year was paid to a paediatrician in the south who was working on call between two sites, Mr Mulvany told the committee.

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Meanwhile, a psychiatric registrar in the greater Dublin area received almost twice his salary in allowances when acting up as a consultant psychiatrist, he said. The registrar, who was on a salary of €60,000, received the largest allowance paid last year of €110,000. This brought his total payments to €174,000.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times