Workers vote on whether to report to €258k consultant
HEALTH workers are threatening to refuse to report to a private management consultant whose firm is being paid €258,730 by the Health Service Executive (HSE) – twice the official rate for the job.
A spokesman for the IMPACT trade union confirmed yesterday that a ballot on whether to sanction a refusal to report to the manager is under way and a result is due next week.
It emerged at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee this week that Starline Management Consulting Ltd was paid the massive sum in the past year to fill the post of assistant chief executive and chief operating officer in the mid-west hospitals' group.
The extent of the payment only came to light after questioning of HSE chief Tony O'Brien who said it was advertised twice but could not be filled. He admitted that the going rate for the post was around €116,000.
The payout comes as hospitals in the region are to enforce cuts.
IMPACT official Andy Pike said yesterday he welcomed demands by the committee to provide details of the payments and a report on how the recruitment process was conducted.
He said: "Mr O'Brien has said the mid-west hospital group needs additional administration staff to provide vital services to patients.
"The money spent employing just one management consultant would cover the costs of at least five clerical staff to help the hospitals cope with increasing demands."
The union had written to the committee last month setting out its concerns on corporate governance and senior staff salaries in the hospital group.
"The union is currently balloting members across five hospitals in the region to sanction a refusal to report to the manager. The ballot result is due on June 20."
A spokeswoman for the hospital group said yesterday that the post was regarded as critical.
Fianna Fail spokesman on health Billy Kelleher said he wanted a special meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health to be convened to discuss the budget crisis facing the health service.
"The Taoiseach and the Minister for Public Expenditure Brendan Howlin should join Minister Reilly at a special health committee meeting on this latest budget chaos.
"Hospitals are due to submit new cost-containment plans this week to tackle a projected €500m budget overrun and the latest efforts to get James Reilly's shambolic health budget back in line should not be done behind closed doors."