Sunday 18 August 2019

€100,000 pay-off for HSE chief who quit after cancer scandal

Quit: Former HSE director general Tony O’Brien
Quit: Former HSE director general Tony O’Brien
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A senior doctor has received a bumper payment of nearly €1m from the cash-strapped HSE.

And the HSE's former director general Tony O'Brien, who resigned in May 2018 during the CervicalCheck crisis, was paid €238,207, including a severance sum of €98,558.

The disclosures are revealed in the HSE's annual report which also shows growing numbers of health staff are on six-figure salaries.

The massive payout of between €970,000 and €980,000 to the senior doctor was made in 2017, according to financial statements.

It included backdated arrears over several years including pay, allowances, overtime, night duty, weekend and on-calls.

The doctor's basic salary is in the €210,000 to €220,000 bracket.

The payment did not include any private fees.

Mr O'Brien, who had been due to leave the HSE in July last year, stepped down months earlier.

He resigned as the heated controversy over women getting wrong cervical screening results escalated.

However, he left with salary payments of €139,649 plus severance of €98,558. He received €3,900 in expenses last year and €12,460 in 2017.

His post was temporarily filled by deputy director general Anne O'Connor, who received €112,468 last year.

Paul Reid, the new boss of the HSE who took over in recent weeks, is to be paid €350,000.

The annual report shows 630 HSE staff were on salaries of more than €200,000 last year.

Of these, 15 earned more than €300,000.

The report shows income from patients with private health insurance fell last year.

It dropped from €305,231 in 2017 to €278,246 in 2018.

The income from car parking charges increased to €12.2m.

The HSE, which received €14.6bn in health funding last year, received a bailout of another €625m after a major overspend.

The biggest scandal to hit the health service last year involved CervicalCheck and the revelations that most of the 221 women who went on to develop cervical cancer were not told an audit showed they had received the wrong test result.

Writing in the report, Ms O'Connor said there was a failure by the HSE to communicate with the women involved.

"These women should have been informed and the HSE apologised unreservedly for our shortcomings in that regard.

"I reiterate that apology now. Through the CervicalCheck programme over 100,000 cases of abnormal cervical cells have been detected and treated since 2008 - many of these could have developed into cancer if not detected through screening.

"It is essential that the public has confidence in this vital service."

The HSE received 2,267 complaints last year and voluntary hospitals got another 3,114.

The main complaint, accounting for 6,668 grievances, related to access, which reflected waiting lists for hospital and community services .

Some 3,509 were about dignity and respect and thousands of others were dissatisfied with the safety and effectiveness of their care.

There were 741 complaints in relation to a child's assessment of need for disability services.

There were 2,330 appeals following a refusal of a medical card. Some 31pc were allowed or partially allowed.

Irish Independent

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