independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Reilly says 26 health agencies want to continue paying top ups

Health Minister James Reilly. Photo: Tom Burke
Health Minister James Reilly. Photo: Tom Burke

HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly says 26 agencies in the health sector want to keep paying controversial top ups to staff.

Dr Reilly also confirmed Rehab is “not subject to public pay policy”.

The Health Minister says 86 business cases on individual payments are being made to the HSE by Section 38 organisations.

The minister says not all agencies told the HSE they are in compliance with public sector pay policy by the deadline of January 31.

“A small number are expected to confirm this shortly,” he said.

Dr Reilly said 86 business cases are being made to a HSE review panel to assess the merit of the payments being continued.

The HSE review panel will then make recommendation to the Department of Health.

“We are not for turning and we will pursue this to the end,” he said.

Sinn Fein health spokesman Caoimhghin O Caolain asked if the minister knew the present salary of Rehab’s chief executive.  Mr O Caolain said the chief executive’s salary was €230,000 in 2011.

Dr Reilly said the Government believes any organisation receiving more than €250,000 in funding from the taxpayer “should be in line with pay policies”.

Meanwhile, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has been accused of disclosing documents and information "for dramatic effect" on live television at the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

The comments were made by Fianna Fáil TD and PAC member Sean Fleming during discussions about the failure of the HSE to update the committee on the status compliance of voluntary hospitals.

"I don't like the practice of some of these people using the Public Accounts Committee as a platform for different agendas when they get the TV cameras on them," he said.

Referring to the recent hearing where the HSE told the PAC of the previously undisclosed pension package totalling €742,000 paid to former CRC Chief Executive Paul Kiely.

He said the HSE seemed to "producing information for dramatic effect" and said this was not "good practice".

The Section 38 hospitals and agencies had until January 31 to signal compliance with HSE pay policy. Committee members expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of update or the lack of action in terms of penalty from the HSE to those still in breach of the policy.

At the height of the CRC scandal last month, the HSE said it would cut funding to those not in compliance at the end of January, but softened its position significantly last week.

It said last weekend that the deadline was simply for the 43 agencies to signal a willingness to comply rather.  Committee member Simon Harris expressed his dissatisfaction as to the shift in position from the HSE.

The committee was told the HSE is "working on an update" ahead of its scheduled appearance before the PAC in two weeks time. Several committee members, including Mr Fleming said the requested update must be with them before that hearing in order to allow members to adequately study the material.   

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