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HSE rolls back on expenses row

The HSE had said that it wouldn’t pay travel expenses to its staff – but reversed the decision following a meeting between the Minister for Health and the head of the HSE.

Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE HSE HAS reversed its controversial decision not to pay travel expenses to its staff.

The Department of Health this evening said that any health service staff owed money for travel and subsistence will receive the expenses “when they fall due”.

The reversal follows a meeting earlier today between Minister for Health James Reilly and HSE chief executive Cathal Magee.

The HSE said on Monday that it would not pay travel and subsistence expenses from October and November until next January, in an effort to meet its budget targets.

Minister Reilly had said that the HSE had taken the initial decision without his involvement and he did not approve of the move.

The HSE had planned to withhold around €15 million by not paying out the money to its staff, saying that the decision was taken “pending a resolution of the HSE’s final cash position for 2011″.

One union spokesperson welcomed the move.

“Health staff are working hard to cut costs and maintain services, but they can’t be expected to meet the costs of running vital community health services out of their own pockets,” said Louise O’Donnell of IMPACT.

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IMPACT had written to James Reilly yesterday urging him to overturn the HSE’s decision.

Reilly had warned the HSE to stick to to its budget without penalising its staff.

“I expect the HSE to stay within budget, but I expect them to pay their bills,” he told RTE’s Prime Time on Monday. “Staying in budget doesn’t mean you don’t pay people the money you owe them”.

Read more: Minister may order HSE to pay staff expenses >

Read more: HSE withholding travel costs from staff ‘not good enough’, says minister >

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Christine Bohan

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