Tuesday 12 December 2017

Taxpayers fund perks for health managers

The HSE, which started the review, headed by senior counsel Eileen Barrington, nearly nine months ago, has insisted there is no need to consult with Miss Y’s solicitor
The HSE, which started the review, headed by senior counsel Eileen Barrington, nearly nine months ago, has insisted there is no need to consult with Miss Y’s solicitor

CASH-strapped hospitals are paying thousands of euro for managers to receive health insurance and other lucrative perks.

An audit has uncovered the extent of the generous top-ups among executives and doctors who were already on salaries of between €75,000 and €190,000.

Health managers are receiving at least €3.2m in perks, allowances and private pension top-ups from taxpayer money. The well-paid executives are still receiving a range of payments and allowances.

There are 35 individuals sharing €1.1m for the clinical directors allowance – averaging at €31,400 each.

There are 44 who receive an “on-call allowance”, which totals €244,500 between them – about €5,500 each.

And 12 are sharing a €34,000 pot for health insurance – an average of €2,800 each. Among the bodies paying these health insurance premiums is Tallaght Hospital, which recently wrote to the HSE warning that patients with cancer were facing delays.

The vague titles covering the top-ups are reminiscent of another era and include a “dual responsibility allowance” worth €24,411 to five managers.

And in some cases the taxpayer is contributing to private pension funds worth nearly half the executive’s salary.

The rate of pension contributions from the public purse to the private pension funds of managers comes to €346,561 and range from 6pc to 46.6pc of salary.

A range of other HSE-funded services, including organisations caring for the disabled and the elderly, are paying 34 senior managers €912,472 |in additional allowances |from “private funds”. This averages out at €26,800 per person.

The audit, conducted by |the HSE, said most of |these have been in place for years – and despite claims they were “discussed and agreed” with the Department of Health, |no documentary evidence |of this was found in many cases.

The confidential report comes as the HSE prepares to slash at least €666m in services next year, cutting services across the board including axing tens of thousands of medical cards.

The Irish Independent recently reported that the Department of Health issued a circular to the HSE, ordering it to end these “many breaches of the one person, one salary principle”.

The HSE’s head of human resources Barry O’Brien has said there is no current arrangement in place whereby |employers are authorised to supplement the approved rate

for any post, senior or otherwise.

But the audit revealed a lack of clarity on the level of |authority available to each HSE-funded agency to pay allowances in the absence of approval from either the HSE or the Department of Health.

The health insurance premiums for executives are being paid at a number of organisations including Tallaght Hospital, Cappagh Hospitals and Cheeverstown House, which provides services for the people with a disability.

Meanwhile Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, which is also in the red, is paying additional managerial allowances of over €53,000.

Contribution

Hospitals such as Cappagh, St James’s and the National |Rehabilitation Hospital in Dun Laoghaire paid three doctors €107, 308 between them to chair medical boards.

And 13 agencies which pay executives €409,631 from “private funds” include the disability providers the Cope Foundation, the Central Medical Clinic, St Michael’s House as well as St Vincent’s Hospital.

The Sisters of Charity and St Michael’s House are providing a pension fund contribution of €87,965.

St Michael’s House also provides a company car, while the Mater Hospital pays €3,500 in car expenses.

A spokesman for the St Vincent’s Healthcare Group said it was now working closely with the HSE – but because of data protection is not able to discuss an individual’s salaries.

By Eilish O’Regan, Health Correspondent

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