ST Vincent's Hospital in Dublin, which is paying top-ups to three senior executives, has rejected claims that it is in breach of any rules. Chairman Noel Whelan said the extra payments -- the extent of which the board is refusing to disclose -- is for work carried out for the private interests of the St Vincent's Hospital Group, which includes both public and private hospitals.
In a letter delivered to the Dail Committee on Public Accounts yesterday evening, he said the remuneration, which is separate from public sector commitments -- is fully taxed, non-pensionable and sourced exclusively from the income generated from St Vincent's Private Hospital.
He also said the Health Service Executive (HSE) was informed that the three senior executives had these additional contracts as far back as 2009.
The chief executive Nicholas Jermyn, who is on a public salary of €136,000, is one of those in receipt of a top-up.
The letter is the latest twist in the top-ups saga and follows another marathon meeting of the committee, which was told that nine months after the HSE audit of extra allowances paid in voluntary hospitals and agencies, the HSE is only satisfied that eight of the 44 organisations are compliant.
Committee chairman Fianna Fail TD John McGuinness had to dispatch a senior HSE official to contact St Vincent's hospital during the meeting after he lost patience with the HSE reading out yet another piece of correspondence on the issue.
He said he was "fed up with all this nonsense" and criticised the HSE and the department for engaging in a lot of letter-writing activity but taking little action to rein in the various hospitals and agencies.
St Vincent's directors and executives are now to be asked to appear before the committee in January.
Earlier, Department of Health secretary general Dr Ambrose McLoughlin was quizzed on what action he took when he received the audit report in March this year.
The report said that some agencies claimed they were given a form of approval for the allowances. Mr McLoughlin said he checked to see if there was any documentation in the department to back this up but he could not find any.
The HSE's head of human resources Barry O'Brien said in his view St Vincent's was breaching public pay policy, which could have "severe consequences" for the hospital.
The HSE would "consider" withholding funding from the public hospital, he added.
All of the agencies are now being told they have to sign a compliance agreement by the end of next month but this can include making a case to the HSE for the retention of the top-up.
The HSE provided up-to-date information, which it received from some of the agencies. This included privately funded top-ups to five executives in another major disability provider, St Michael's House in Dublin.
The chief executive was getting a top-up of €13,333 and three regional directors were each getting €22,092. Its communications manager was receiving €6,778. These have been paid since 1981.
Earlier, Mater Hospital chief executive Mary Day denied that it receives a fee of more than €600,000 from the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) for administering a pension scheme on behalf of 180 of its staff.
She said it was the CRC's employer contribution to cover its staff pension scheme.