Overtime rises almost 760% for top HSE executives during pandemic

Audit finds 10 biggest recipients on staff were paid €631,608 in 156 claims

Overtime for managers and administrators in the Health Service Executive more than doubled last year as a result of the pandemic, according to an internal audit report.

For the most senior executives and managers in this staff category, overtime increased by 759 per cent between April to September 2020, compared with the same period in 2019, from a low base.

In contrast, total overtime for HSE staff increased by only 14 per cent over the period.

Total overtime paid by the HSE during the six-month period rose from €96.7 million to €105.72 million, with 153,300 separate claims made between April and September.


The 10 biggest recipients were paid €631,608, in 156 claims. Valid reasons were recorded for all of these claims, with 40 per cent being due to the pandemic and 60 per cent due to a backlog of claims.

Physician’s claim

The single biggest claim listed, by an occupational health physician earning €186,000, was for €39,675. A director of public health earning €135,298 claimed €29,115 in overtime during the period.

Senior executives and managers claimed more than €3.5 million in overtime during the six-month period last year, in 7,656 claims. This compared with €1.5 million in 4,595 claims over the same period in 2019.

For the most senior grades (grades VIII to chief executive) overtime grew from €28,000 in April-September 2019 to €241,000 in the same period last year. The number of claims increased from 46 to 180.

Separately, the audit report found that none of over 2,000 ventilators ordered by the HSE at a cost of €81 million at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic was ever used.

Undelivered ventilators

Of the 2,194 ventilators paid for in advance, only 465, costing €10.1 million, were ever delivered, with none being put into clinical use, the final audit report into the contract has found.

Of this initial delivery from China, a 41 per cent failure rate was reported by HSE and external testing experts.

As a result of this testing and delays in receiving units from China, many of the orders were cancelled from early April 2020 on.

According to HSE internal auditors, the quantity of ventilators ordered was “far in excess” of the requirement identified by an expert assessment group.

Of the €81 million prepaid, refunds for cancelled orders of €29.3 million have been received and €9.1 was converted into an order for personal protective equipment.

Legal action is ongoing between the HSE and one supplier over €2.8 million worth of deliveries.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times