Hospital consultant got €186,000 for career rest days


PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE - ALLOWANCES:ONE HOSPITAL consultant received €186,000 in allowances in 2010, the Dáil Public Accounts Committee was told yesterday.

The chief executive of the Health Service Executive, Cathal Magee, told the committee the individual was a clinical director in a hospital and the money related to rest days accumulated over the doctor’s 36-year career in the health service.

Under current arrangements, some consultants who have not been able to avail of their full entitlement of contractual rest days in the 1990s are permitted to retire a year early on full pay.

It is understood that the payment for this year’s salary is classified as an allowance on the HSE’s books.

Figures given to the committee showed that 9,500 staff in the HSE had received more than €10,000 in allowances in 2010. This number did not include those in the voluntary sector in the health service.

Nearly 8,000 personnel in the HSE received more than €10,000 in overtime payments, with one individual getting more than €135,000.

More than 10,500 staff received in excess of €10,000 in payments for working at weekends in 2010, according to the official figures.

Meanwhile, Mr Magee said the HSE had commissioned a forensic audit into the full level of remuneration provided to senior figures in the voluntary hospital sector.

It has emerged over recent weeks that a number of hospitals were paying more to senior management than the official levels set out by the Department of Health.

Mr Magee said the forensic audit would seek to identify allowances, benefits and remuneration paid to senior figures.

It would also seek to find out whether such arrangements had been approved by the Department of Health or HSE.

It would be against the service level agreements reached between the HSE and voluntary bodies for unauthorised or unapproved additional payments to be made.

Mr Magee also said it would become clear very quickly whether organisations representing hospital consultants were willing to engage on new flexibility and work practices that the Government is seeking as an alternative to further pay cuts.

The chief executive said there was a time limit on the process, which had got under way in recent weeks.

Mr Magee also told the committee there was currently more than €213 million outstanding in payments due from health insurance companies.