HSE says St John of God not compliant with official pay policy

It said it was in breach of public service pay rules if it was paying salaries of €182,000

The HSE has written to all voluntary hospitals and agencies it funds to find out about payments

The HSE has said it does not consider the St John of God organisation to be compliant with public pay policy in the light of recent disclosures about remuneration to senior staff.

It also said it considered St John of God to be in breach of public service pay rules if, as stated during the week, it was currently paying salaries of €182,000 and €`125,000 to some senior personnel.

The St John of God organisation has been at the centre of controversy over recent days after it emerged it made payments of €1.64 million in recent years to senior staff to discharge pension and employment liabilities.

It said the money was sourced from rental income on properties rather than coming from the public purse.

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The HSE has now written to all voluntary hospitals and agencies it funds – known as section 38 bodies – to see if similar payments were made elsewhere. In addition to the one-off payments to senior personnel, St John of God has faced scrutiny over salaries.

Group chief executive John Pepper said on Monday his salary was €182,000 a year, paid from private sources. This is just €3,000 less than the salary of Taoiseach Enda Kenny or HSE director general Tony O'Brien.

Responding to questions, a St John of God spokesman said: “John Pepper is currently not a section 38 employee and is not currently in receipt of benefits. [The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act] no longer applies to him.”

Another executive who received a pension payout, St John of God community services chief executive Clare Dempsey, receives €125,000 a year. The HSE has stipulated the maximum salary at section 38 agencies should be €110,000.

In a statement to The Irish Times yesterday, the HSE said it did not consider St John of God to be compliant with public pay policy and it did "consider the payments as referenced to be in breach of public service pay policy".

Separately the HSE said it had appointed consultants Deloitte to carry out reviews of voluntary hospitals and agencies it funds to determine if they are complying with pay policy and to assess governance arrangements.

The move forms part of a strengthened system of policing compliance. Six such reviews are under way, but none have yet been completed.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent