THREE consultant psychiatrists employed by the Health Service Executive (HSE) last year received tax-free retirement lump sums in excess of €400,000, new figures reveal.
The HSE confirmed the top 25 retirement payments in 2010 were all to consultants.
Details of a tax bonanza were obtained under a Freedom of Information request and show that one consultant psychiatrist received €412,384 on retiring in September last year.
The top 25 received amounts ranging from €330,691 to €412,384.
The other two consultants received €407,621 and €405,656. They also reveal a consultant obstetrician received €397,117 with a consultant general physician receiving €382,169. The top 25 retiring consultants received an aggregate amount of €8.2m.
The figures from the HSE show a large increase in retirement payments over the past two years with 2,248 employees retiring in 2010, receiving a total of €97.3m in lump sums.
This compares to 2,609 staff retiring in 2009, receiving €153.8m, while in 2008 €88.35m was paid to 1,787 on retirement.
The 46pc increase between 2008 and 2009 and the 25pc between 2008 and 2010 in the numbers seeking to retire may be explained by the Government indicating changes to the taxing of retirement lump sums in 2009. Lump sums before this year were tax free.
A HSE spokeswoman confirmed changes in relation to retirement payments in the Finance Act (2011).
She said that "this provides that the maximum lifetime retirement tax free lump sum is €200,000 as on and from January 1, 2011".