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"'Because I'm worth it' culture is still alive and well': HSE to be grilled over top-up payments

The Public Accounts Committee is to scrutinise top-up payments to some CEOs in voluntary hospitals in the wake of controversy this week.

Members of the Public Accounts Committee meeting this morning
Members of the Public Accounts Committee meeting this morning
Image: Screengrab via Oireachtas TV

THE HEALTH SERVICE Executive is to be asked to appear before the Public Accounts Committee next week in the wake of controversy about top-up payments for some voluntary hospital CEOs.

The committee agreed this morning that there was an “urgency” to bring officials from the HSE and potentially the CEOs and chairman of the voluntary hospitals before them.

It follows the revelation that that one-in-four of the 43 State funded hospitals and health agencies are breaching official pay caps in the case of some senior executives, with some receiving top-ups payments to their salary.

TDs agreed to arrange for the HSE to appear before the Dáil committee next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Labour TD Gerald Nash said that the “general public are appalled” at the details that have emerged in recent days and said it is “appropriate that we hold special meetings in relation to this issue”.

Shane Ross said that there was an “urgency about it” that required immediate action.

Committee chairman John McGuinness raised concerns that the HSE internal audit report on the issue was only presented to the committee when the HSE appeared before it earlier this month about the medical cards issue.

“[The] report was given to clerk and it was then too late for us to mention it or to flag it [at the last meeting],” McGuinness said.

The Committee also agreed to write to the Department of Public Expenditure of Reform to see if similar payments are being made in other government departments or State agencies.

McGuinness said there is a “need to raise it will all government departments to see what their understanding is of these payments”.

In a statement issued after today’s meeting, Nash said: “It is clear to me that some have been engaged in a game of cat and mouse with the relevant government department.

“This is not on and shows that the ‘because I’m worth it’ culture is still alive and well in some areas.”

Read: Government ‘attempting to weed out’ top-up payments to health executives – Kenny

Read: HSE will report on hospital executive pay breaches ‘in a couple of days’

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Hugh O'Connell

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