ST VINCENT’S HOSPITAL are holding firm in their refusal to disclose how much they pay senior staff in additional payments, saying that they are in compliance with rules “based on our interpretation”.
The hospital have told the HSE that it would not disclose payments to senior staff because of data protection issues and because they come from private funds.
During a Public Accounts Committee hearing today, the HSE’s director of human resources Barry O’Brien read out a letter dated 19 November that was written to the HSE by his counterpart at St. Vincent’s Hospital, John McPhillips:
We note that you acknowledge in your letter on the 5 November that the HSE is not asking us to breach any confidential contracts. We at St. Vincent’s hospital have statutory obligations under data protection regulations to its employees…Furthermore we have data protection agreements with the HSE.
The letter added that: “I now write to confirm that having reviewed our files against that based on the above circulars, St Vincent’s is in compliance based on our interpretation of the same”.
O’Brien told the PAC that it is his personal opinion that St. Vincent’s is not in compliance with the rules that govern payments to staff at hospitals that receive state funding.
“I don’t believe (they are in compliance) because they made the statement that they are paying three members of management from an private fund.”
Frances Spillane and Dr. Ambrose McLoughlin of the Department of Health at today’s hearing. (Pic: Screengrab/Oireachtas.ie)
Following the exchange, PAC chairman John McGuinness described the stance of St. Vincent’s hospital as “seriously unsatisfactory” and asked the HSE to designate someone to leave the committee hearing to contact them immediately:
In light of the Minister’s comments this morning and the concerns raised today and the fact that we’re fed up with this nonsense, that you send someone out from here now and ask John McPhillips and St. Vincent’s what they intend to do next.
About 40 mins later correspondence was received from the CEO of St. Vincent’s, Nicky Jermyn, through an intermediary of the HSE.
The report detailed that a meeting was held by the management of St. Vincent’s Hospital yesterday. The meeting reiterated that they believe they are in compliance with rules based on their interpretation.
Vincent’s added however that they are “fully open to engaging with the HSE” the ensure compliance and are “fully committed” to doing so.
Health Minister James Reilly earlier this morning said that St. Vincent’s would be “heading for big trouble” if they continued to disclose wages.
It is believed that Jermyn had acknowledged Minster Reilly’s comments and accepted that it was up to the HSE to decide if they were complaint, and not the hospital themselves.
It was added that finally that Jermyn was to prepare a full statement on behalf of St. Vincent’s Hospital that would be ready before the committee finished today.