Kiely 'must say more than sorry'
Published 19/12/2013 | 14:17
The Government's spending watchdog has demanded more than an apology from the former chiefs of scandal-struck Central Remedial Clinic (CRC).
John McGuinness, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), suggested that revelations from one-time chief executive Paul Kiely about a pension fund and an alleged "fee" paid to the Mater Hospital are misleading.
"They owe an apology to the committee, to the section, to the CRC and to the Mater," Mr McGuinness said.
"Given the fact it is Christmas time, they should maybe go beyond an apology because substantial damage has been done to those who are out there trying to collect for the charities."
Mr Kiely told the PAC during an explosive hearing last week that he handed over a cheque every year for around 600,000 euro (£500,000) to Mater Hospital in a supposed mystery deal.
Mater chief executive Mary Day repeated today that it receives no payment from the clinic and that the annual lump sum was for retirement payments to 181 CRC workers.
The money goes into day-to-day accounts and, in turn, the pensions of CRC staff are paid from the Mater's current accounts.
Mater Hospital has accepted that around 660,000 euro (£552,000) was paid into the voluntary hospital superannuation scheme (VHSS) last year and said the hospital will be liable for CRC pensions "in perpetuity".
The arrangement was put in place in the 1970s.
But Ms Day told PAC today: "The hospital receives no payment for this service."
She has had no communication with Mr Kiely during her role to date, she said.
"I took up the role in January this year and Mr Kiely resigned from his post in March this year or April of this year.
"So there was no communication between me and Mr Kiely."
But Ms Day has demanded that he retract the statements he made last week, to which she has received no reply.
"If we were not receiving the 660,000 euro, we would not be operating the scheme for the CRC," Ms Day said.
"The way that the scheme was operated under the VHSS was based on employer contribution."
Meanwhile, the Health Service Executive (HSE) warned that hospitals and health agencies that continue to breach public pay rules could have vital funding cut.
Board members of the organisations could also put themselves "at risk" if they fail to comply with pay scales, as the top-up scandal to senior medical staff rumbles on.
HSE director of human resources Barry O'Brien warned there would be "serious implications" for unsanctioned payments.
"(We will) give consideration to withholding funding," Mr O'Brien said.
"Any incident of funding that is going to be withheld will not affect frontline patients or service or care."
It emerged today that St Vincent's University Hospital has refused to tell an HSE audit into top-up payments how much it has been paying senior staff in private allowances.
PAC chairman Mr McGuinness ordered a senior health official to contact St Vincent's during the sitting and encourage it to engage with an audit process.
The official said the hospital insisted that according to its interpretation of public pay rules, it was in compliance.
It said it would cooperate with the PAC and is preparing to submit a statement to the committee later today.
The chairman of St Vincent's Healthcare Group later wrote to PAC stating that he believes it is compliant with health sector pay policy based on its interpretation of it and legal advice.
Professor Noel Whelan said the HSE was informed in 2009 that three senior executives were being paid top-up payments.
But he stressed this money was sourced exclusively from income generated from St Vincent's Private Hospital, and not from public funds at St Vincent's Hospital and St Michael's Hospital.
Prof Whelan also insisted that no public or charitable funds are involved and that no directors or board members are paid a fee or wage.
Health Minister James Reilly earlier warned the hospital that there will be serious consequences if it does not comply with public pay policy.