independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Lots of talk from minister – but little action

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

HEALTH Minister Dr James Reilly is vowing to clean up the top-up payments in the health sector which scandalised the nation.

"We are not for turning, and we will pursue this to the end," he declared.

What's less reassuring is the reality of what is happening since the spotlight went off the top-ups scandal.

Health Service Executive (HSE) threats to cut funding to non-compliant voluntary hospitals and agencies have failed to materialise, despite the passing of its stated deadline for them to fall into line.

At the height of the CRC pensions and top-ups scandal, the HSE certainly gave the impression that January 31 was the deadline for all Section 38 hospitals and agencies to be fully compliant in terms of pay and top-up allowances.

The HSE warned that agencies which failed to comply with pay policy would face cuts to their funding.

But it now transpires that the end of January deadline was merely to get a signal of intent from the agencies to eventually comply with the HSE's pay policy. Achieving full compliance could take several months.

Dr Reilly revealed yesterday that all agencies told the HSE they were in compliance with public sector pay policy by the deadline of January 31.

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

Hardly tough talking.

No mention of who was guilty of not complying with the deadline, what's the delay and what's the punishment.

And it transpires that 26 agencies in the health sector want to keep paying controversial top-ups to staff.

The Health Minister says 85 business cases on individual payments are being made to the HSE. Once reviewed, the cases will be passed to the Department of Health for approval. Again, no mention of who exactly is looking for the top-ups to continue and why.

The spotlight has moved on and so too has the Government's impetus to address the issue.

Irish Independent

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