Saturday 20 January 2018

Hospital board member 'surprised' at pay perks

National Maternity Hospital Master Dr Rhona Mahony
National Maternity Hospital Master Dr Rhona Mahony

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE use of private funds to top up the salaries of Dr Rhona Mahony and other executives has been criticised by a member of the board of the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street.

Fine Gael councillor Pat Crimmins, who has been on the board of the National Maternity Hospital for four years, said he was unaware of the decision to give Dr Mahony a €45,000 private top-up to her salary and allowances worth €236,000.

"I was very surprised to read about the private allowance. It never came up at the meetings I attended and I would not agree with it," he said.

He also said he was at a loss as to the source of the money to finance this private fund.

Dublin Lord Mayor Oisin Quinn, who has been an ex-officio member of both the boards of the National Maternity Hospital and the Rotunda Hospital since assuming office in June, also said he did not know about the controversial payments.

PROCEEDS

Rotunda master Dr Sam Coulter-Smith is getting a €20,000 private top-up.

A number of the members of the board of Our Lady's Hospital for Sick Children also revealed they had no knowledge of the €30,000 from the proceeds of the hospital shop given to its chief executive, Lorcan Birthistle, to supplement his state salary of €140,000.

Turlough O'Donnell, a former Director General of the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation, who has been on the board of Crumlin for three years, said: "I am personally not aware of it."

"The salary I think for a chief executive of a hospital of this size is quite inadequate. The concentration should be on getting the salary structure right and if it was it is highly unlikely there would be these creative arrangements."

His comments about the adequacy of the salary were supported by two other Crumlin board members, Fine Gael councillor Ruairi McGinley and Labour councillor Michael O Sullivan.

They said they were not told about the top-up but felt the chief executive's salary was too low given the responsibilities he had.

The National Maternity Hospital has refused to reveal the source of its private funding for the top-ups.

The Rotunda also refused to disclose how the top-ups are funded but said they were not sourced from its fundraising arm, the Friends of the Rotunda. Hospitals and health agencies, such as the Central Remedial Clinic, which continue to pay executives top-ups from private funds, have been told to end the practice or else make a case for their retention.

Fianna Fail spokesperson on Public Expenditure Sean Fleming said the Government had known since last March about the top-ups for hospital bosses.

He accused them of turning a blind eye while it negotiated cuts for lower paid public service workers under the Haddington Road agreement.

Meanwhile, there is a lack of clarity about hospitals and agencies which are using private funds to make pension contributions to the private pension funds of staff.

The HSE audit found the additional pension liabilities arose because the executive's salary was already increased because of private top-ups.

In some cases public funds are used to supplement private pension schemes, ranging from 6pc to 46.6pc of salary.

Irish Independent

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