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HSE says some ‘top-ups’ for hospital executives date back to 1996

Only 7 hospital agencies have been found to be compliant with public pay policy.

Tony O'Brien in front of the PAC today.
Tony O'Brien in front of the PAC today.

Updated 22.46pm

THE DIRECTOR GENERAL of the Health Service Executive (HSE), Tony O’Brien, was before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) today and discussed the controversy over top-ups to senior staff at many hospitals.

Following correspondence between the HSE, health agencies and voluntary hospitals, he said the 30 agencies described themselves as compliant with public pay policy and 12 agencies described themselves as non compliant.

Compliant

However, he added that of those that described themselves as compliant, 15 agencies were paying remuneration that was not compliant to the public pay policy.

Only 7 agencies were found to be compliant while a further 7 were found to be paying remuneration that was non complaint. One agency had written to the HSE asking for formal approval that non-compliant payment be made.

The 7 health agencies which claimed to be compliant with executives pay caps but were then found not to be are Cheeverstown House, St James Hospital, St John of Gods, Stewarts Hospital, Leopardstown Park Hospital, St Vincents Hospital and Royal Victoria Eye and Ear.

The PAC heard that top-up payments in health agencies date as far back as 1996 in some cases.

Self declared

He added that those hospitals that had self declared their compliance were found to have deviated from the public pay policy for some individuals.

He reiterated that it was the HSE’s belief that any agency that has one or more employees in breach of the public pay policy then they are not compliant and will be dealt with as so.

Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming asked how the agencies that were being funded either partly or wholly by the HSE could get away with not replying to correspondence from the HSE in relation to salaries, in which O’Brien said that if payments were to cease so would services.

Fine Gael’s Aine Collins asked where the additional payments were coming from, stating that it was of concern to many that these payments were coming from hospital car park revenue or hospital shops. The PAC was informed that a breakdown was not supplied in the internal audit.

Collins said that she would like this information to be investigated, stating that it was a matter of public interest.

HSE internal audit also indicated that some agencies said they received “verbal approval” and that there was no paper trail of the Department of Health asking for permission for any top-ups.

It’s believed that the members of the Department of Health will be asked to appear in front of the PAC, followed by the CEOs and chairpersons of the agencies involved in the pay controversy.

Read: HSE chief to face questions from TDs over ‘top-ups’ and health budget overrun>

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