THE HSE has defended a decision by one of its senior directors to scrap a hospital allowance that he had previously approved.
Ian Carter has been the HSE director of acute services, overseeing hospitals, since last summer and had previously worked as chief executive of St James's Hospital in Dublin.
He was part of the HSE's internal review panel that reviewed business cases in recent weeks for the continuation of top-ups, including applications from St James's Hospital.
In its business case, St James's referred to a €51,617 post-graduate training allowance for a senior doctor – for which Mr Carter had given the go-ahead in 2009.
However, the HSE's review group said this should be abolished, along with seven other consultant and managerial allowances in St James's.
A spokeswoman for the HSE said yesterday that Mr Carter's role as former chief executive of St James's pre-dated a "one person, one salary" circular. This was issued by the Department of Health in September, instructing the HSE to end allowances that are not in keeping with public pay policy.
The spokeswoman said: "It was against this policy that decisions were taken in relation to all of the business cases assessed by the HSE's internal review panel, of which Mr Carter was a member."
The revelation follows a report based upon the examination of over 200 business cases from section 38 hospitals and agencies for the continuation of top-ups.
It rejected most of the applications and has given the hospitals and disability agencies until July 1 to axe them. However, the ending of these payments is expected to face several legal challenges by staff who have employment contracts of various kinds.
The HSE told the hospitals and agencies that they are the employers and must examine the contractual and legal issues involved.
Meanwhile, senior staff in the HSE, including director-general Tony O'Brien, met with the board of St Vincent's Healthcare Group yesterday in another bid to break the deadlock over the practice of consultants working in its public and private hospitals.
The HSE has given the group, which includes St Vincent's public hospital, private hospital, and St Michael's Hospital in Dun Laoghaire, until March 31 to have a plan in place to end the practice of having consultants double-jobbing. The HSE has said this is in breach of their contract.