Hospital ends unauthorised payments

St James Hospital says it ceased paying unauthorised allowances worth almost €500,000 a year to senior staff

St James Hospital has ceased paying unauthorised allowances worth almost €500,000 a year to its senior staff

St James Hospital has ceased paying unauthorised allowances worth almost €500,000 a year to its senior staff

 

St James’s Hospital says it stopped paying all but one of the allowances “deemed to be unapproved by the HSE” with effect from last June.

It says the hospital is now fully compliant with Department of Health pay policy. A 2013 circular from the Department instructed health employers to adhere to agreed pay rates and said non-Exchequer sources of funding could not be used to supplement remuneration.

St James’s has provided the Dáil Public Accounts Committee with details of the unapproved allowances which it formerly paid to staff. The largest, for €51,617 a year, was paid to a consultant rheumatologist as a postgraduate co-ordinator allowance.

A national haemophilia director allowance of €43,468 was paid to a consultant haematologist. Hospital chief executive Brian Fitzgerald says in a letter to the committee a decision on a business case submitted to the HSE for retaining this allowance is awaited.

The list of former allowances includes a clinical director allowance of €45,998 paid to a national clinical director, and 10 clinical director allowances totalling €289,790 paid to clinical directors in the hospital.

A consultant geriatrician received €14,883 as an “admin session” allowance, the chief executive received a €8,937 travel allowance and the director of human resources was paid a “dual responsibility allowance (x2)” worth €7,226.

Mr Fitzgerald has left his post in St James’s to take up the position of deputy chief executive in the private Beacon Hospital since writing to the committee in late January.

Over the past two year, a wide-ranging investigation into breaches of Government pay policy in the voluntary health sector has taken place. The HSE directed that payment of top-up payments should end by the beginning of July.

It is understood that a number of organisations maintained they could be sued by staff if the payments were ended. Some also sought a HSE indemnity in the event of legal action. The HSE rejected the provision of such indemnification.

The HSE subsequently wrote to some of the agencies and set out how some executives could retain the controversial additional payments.

Last month the HSE wrote asking the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group to confirm that all “irregular” payments to senior staff have stopped.