Sunday 25 February 2018

Key staff to get up to €42,000 extra for children's hospital

How the planned new national children’s hospital will look
How the planned new national children’s hospital will look
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Salary top-ups of up to €42,000 have been sanctioned for a number of staff posts involved in the building of the new national children's hospital, the Irish Independent has learned.

The hospital board was given permission to pay five specialist staff, who are involved in various areas including engineering and architecture, "market rate" salaries they could expect to get in the private sector, Freedom of Information documents reveal.

Internal correspondence shows the hospital's project director John Pollock wrote to the Department of Health, asking for the salaries to be increased in two cases, as the candidates being recruited from the private sector would suffer a cut in take-home pay on public service rates.

"It is unrealistic to expect the successful candidates to take a cut in pay, and they have both confirmed that based on current maximum salary proposed they will be unable to accept the positions offered," he wrote.

The highest top-up was sanctioned for the post of schedule director, with a salary of €139,000. The public service rate for the job is €97,000.

The post of commercial director was allowed €120,000, €23,000 higher than the public salary rate.

The lead engineer grade, which has a public service rate of €97,000, has been boosted by another €16,000 to bring it to €113,500. The go-ahead was given by the Department of Expenditure and Reform.

In response, the Department of Health told the hospital board that market-rate salaries could be paid for five posts in light of the specialist skills involved and the short tenure of the posts. They were also granted to reduce the risk of delaying the project should the posts remain vacant.

The hospital board's annual report for 2016 said two specialist staff shared additional pay of a total of €49,211.

A spokeswoman said the National Paediatric Hospital Development Board was unsuccessful in recruiting staff to fill two key roles at the salaries sanctioned by the Department of Health. "The roles were subsequently filled at market rates, with the staff being paid a total of €49,211 in excess of rates sanctioned by the department."

She said, having considered the "significant challenge in relation to attracting suitable employees with the specialist skills required", the departments of Health and Public Expenditure reviewed the pay rates. They are now "within sanctioned levels".

Irish Independent

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