HSE probes €250,000-plus payments to 27 consultants
A HEALTH Service Executive (HSE) probe is under way into how 27 hospital consultants were each paid more than €250,000 last year.
The Irish Independent has learned that a confidential letter has been sent by Sean McGrath, the HSE's director of human resources, querying how the hospital consultants received payments that far exceeded their basic salaries.
Academic consultants, who are attached to universities, receive higher salaries in line with their extra responsibilities and are the highest medical earners.
It has now emerged, however, that around 27 hospital consultants, who work in hospitals alone and hold no academic positions, were each paid over €250,000 last year.
Mr McGrath said that "in some cases the figure may include arrears".
But he also queried how doctors were getting extra payments for additional sessions worked when their agreement to work these extra hours was part of the reason they got higher salaries in 2008.
The correspondence reveals how some consultants are getting generous additions to their salary for taking on extra roles.
A spokesman for the HSE confirmed that it was examining a range of payments to consultants.
So far, no consultant has had any payments or allowances removed as part of the probe.
A consultant's total remuneration would include their basic salary plus allowances and payments for leave days that they worked.
Some consultants have additional responsibilities. For example, they receive an additional €50,000 a year if they are a clinical director.
The majority of consultants signed up to a new contract in 2008, which gave them higher salaries in return for a changes in terms and conditions, including a 37-hour week.
Their basic public salaries can range from €172,000 to €192,000 depending on where they work and whether they have access to private practice.
The document shows that one consultant received more than €150,000 in arrears for extra hours worked over a two-year period.