'Significant strides' cited by Drumm for bonus


THE CHIEF executive of the Health Service Executive (HSE), Prof Brendan Drumm, sent a five-page letter to the organisation’s remuneration committee setting out the reasons why he merited a bonus for 2007.

Prof Drumm, who has been approved a €70,000 bonus for the year, stated that he was certain that “significant strides” had been made in the HSE in 2007.

The Opposition yesterday criticised the decision to approve the bonus, with Labour calling for the payment to be cancelled.

In his letter, Prof Drumm said he believed 2007 had been a success, with progress made in changing public perception of how a modern health service should function and this was the most demanding task he had faced.

He said he believed an industrial relations dispute with the Irish Nurses’ Organisation, “which we may not have got due credit for”, had been managed very successfully, but that having to use savings from the HSE’s long-term repayment savings to balance the books was a disappointment.

Minister for Health Mary Harney said the bonus in question was in respect of 2007, not 2008, but that she accepted there could be some confusion as it was being discussed in the context of 2009.

She said the economic situation had clearly changed, but the decision to grant Prof Drumm a bonus was entirely a matter for the HSE board, in which she had total faith.

“They take their responsibilities seriously and they made a determination in the context of the contract that applied to 2007,” she said. “The last thing we need is a meddlesome Minister getting involved in contractual issues around individuals. That would be very unsatisfactory in my department as it would be in any other.”

Ms Harney said that if Prof Drumm had continued working as a clinician he would be making considerably more money and that if he accepted the bonus it was a matter for him to decide.

She said no bonuses would be paid for 2008 or 2009.

HSE chairman Liam Downey said the bonus was entirely transparent and was provided for in the executive’s 2007 accounts.

He said 2007 had been a difficult year – there were scandals in the areas of cancer treatment and maternity – but he had no doubt Prof Drumm merited the bonus.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen said performance-related pay structures were in place since 1987. He said the bonus related to 2007 and that the situation was different now.

“We’re very cognisant of the need to ensure that wage structures reflect the present reality, and at the same time make sure we get good people into positions of responsibility where significant taxpayers’ money is being spent.”

Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said bonuses for senior HSE staff were not justified in 2007 and should not be paid.