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Tuesday 26 September 2017

Two senior managers at Coombe also get top-ups

Coombe maternity hospital
Coombe maternity hospital

Eilish O'Regan and Lise Hand

TWO senior managers in the Coombe maternity hospital in Dublin are getting salary top-ups, one of which is worth €26,000, it has emerged.

The latest revelation came from the maternity hospital, which admitted to the Health Service Executive (HSE) that it was not complying with public pay policy, even though it was seriously in the red.

A spokesman told the Irish Independent that the top-ups were being funded from rental income from its private clinic, and not charitable donations, fundraising or the operation of patient facilities.

One of the managers receives a top-up of €26,000 which was approved by the hospital board for an "additional role" taken on outside their contracted position, avoiding the need to recruit someone new.

The other manager is getting an additional €10,000 which was also approved by the board on the basis of their particular "skill-set" for the job.

The spokesman stressed that the master, Dr Sharon Sheehan, and the secretary and general manager were not getting any top-ups.

Meanwhile, three of the hospital's consultants, Dr Sean Daly, Dr Mairead Kennelly and Dr Aisling Martin, are partners in a private pregnancy scan clinic located in the hospital.

The Coombe Fetal Medicine Ltd, which provides ultrasounds for private patients, only operates "after hours" in the hospital. A spokesman said it freed up appointment slots during normal working hours for pregnant women who should get a recommended two scans.

"Additional scans are provided as clinically indicted," he said. Meanwhile, the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) yesterday declined to elaborate further on the top-ups row. It had earlier claimed the HSE had known since 2009 that it was using charity funds to top up the salaries of its managers.

Former CRC chairman Des Peelo said the HSE senior management was told in 2009 that the payments – which included a €136,000 top-up to its €100,000 former chief Paul Kiely – would have to be phased out rather than stopped.

SALARIES

Asked where it thought the money for top-ups would come from after January 2010, when it stopped funding them publicly, the HSE said yesterday that queries regarding the source of the "top-up" amounts were for the CRC.

The HSE said it was not clear what the CRC was referring to when it said it provided the HSE with "regular reports" about the sources of funding, both public and private, for its staff salaries.

Meanwhile, Health Minister James Reilly said he had "a plan" on how to deal with hospitals and agencies which refused to stop paying these allowances.

He said he would not reveal the details of this plan, but insisted if funding cuts were to be made they would be targeted at those benefiting from the top-ups rather than services for patients and clients.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny was quizzed on the issue during his visit to Japan when he was asked was it "not a bit late" for Dr Reilly to be calling for "urgent action".

He replied: "I think what's emerging here is a complete picture of what is involved, and as I said before, you cannot have a situation where ordinary citizens give their hard-earned money through direct debit, flag days, subscriptions or whatever method . . . they give that money on the understanding that it is going to go for charity purposes.

"Therefore, the minister has given an instruction to the HSE to find out the complete truth of the entire picture and deal with this matter comprehensively and effectively."

Irish Independent

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