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More than €166m in allowances paid to HSE staff last year

HSE representatives appearing before the Public Accounts Commitee said most allowances are paid to frontline service provision staff.

Director General of the HSE Tony O'Brien
Director General of the HSE Tony O'Brien

THE TOTAL COST of allowances paid to staff in the health sector was over €166 million in 2011, according to figures put before the Public Accounts Committee this afternoon.

Appearing before the Committee, Director General of the HSE Tony O’Brien said this amounted to 2.61 per cent of the total HSE pay bill. Of the total amount, €86.9 million was spent on allowances paid to nursing staff with €36.3 million paid to care and support staff and €29.3 million paid to medical or dental staff.

He said an estimated total of 36,887 staff in the HSE are in receipt of an allowance with 41 allowances identified in total. Some 31 of these are legacy allowances predating the year 2000 and some date back as far as the 1970s.

The HSE Director General said many of these allowances were introduced when there was a severe lack of nurses in Ireland or to recognise the nursing staff working in specialised areas.

Barry O’Brien, National Director of HR at the HSE said the majority of allowances are paid to frontline service provision staff.

Employment cut

Barry O’Brien said it has been clearly indicated that the department may be given a target reduction of over 6,000 staff by the end of 2014.

Tony O’Brien said the HSE is in the process of consultation with the main union concerned to ensure targets are consistent with the Croke Park Agreement.

It was revealed that out sourcing-payroll was one of the options being considered as Barry O’Brien said it would be better to move current staff to the frontline where they are needed.

He said the executive is a long ways into the review and he now expects it to be “concluded very shortly”.

Both Fine Gael TD Simon Harris and Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald queried allowances that are paid to high earning staff with McDonald saying from the point of view of the tax payers some of the consultants in receipt of allowances “earn very,very high salaries”.

The HSE representatives agreed to supply more detailed figures to the committee with a breakdown of allowances and pay grades.

Read:Public Accounts Committee to examine HSE allowances>

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