Tuesday 20 March 2018

Voluntary hospitals that breach pay rules will have funding cut

Minister for Health James Reilly
Minister for Health James Reilly

Daniel McConnell, Fionnan Sheahan and Lise Hand

FUNDING for voluntary hospitals and agencies, like the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC), which continue to breach government pay policies will be cut, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore has warned.

Mr Gilmore and Taoiseach Enda Kenny ramped up the pressure on the CRC in the wake of damning revelations of management salary top-ups being paid for out of fundraising.

The ongoing top-up scandal is distracting from cuts to frontline services currently being examined under the HSE Service Plan.

Health Minister James Reilly has been forced to dramatically scale back his planned cull of medical cards – leaving another funding black hole of more than €40m to be made up in additional cuts.

Mr Gilmore said he expects all voluntary hospitals and agencies to adhere to government pay guidelines by next year, or face a reduction in their state allocation.

"There are instruments that are available to Government if the agencies don't comply, such as in cases where they are being funded, reducing their funding correspondingly," he said.

Mr Gilmore stopped short of calling on the board of the CRC to resign, as demanded by his party colleague, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, but he did say they must "provide answers".

Mr Kenny, speaking in Tokyo, Japan, described the CRC's use of charitable donations to top up the salaries of executives as "not acceptable in any circumstances" and that the donations were "the people's money".

"The ordinary person who either pays their direct debit or goes out and collects on flag days or pays their money through whatever method to another facility, they fully expect that that money is still going for the children and for the facilities that they use," he said.

The CRC board has come under mounting pressure to resign over the use of charitable donations to top up the salary of former chief executive Paul Kiely, who was an associate of former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.


The clinic admitted last week that Mr Kiely's taxpayer-funded salary of €106,000 was topped up with €136,000 in funds donated by the public, in breach of public sector pay rules.

The CRC also used public donations to top up the salaries of several other executives.

Brian Conlan, the current CRC chief executive, is a new appointee and is not receiving top-ups.

Meanwhile, talks on the finalisation of the plan and the verification of the figures making up the €666m in health cuts are continuing.

The process has resulted in the abandonment of the €113m target for the controversial medical card probity. A new target for medical card probity will be set out, with estimates ranging from €55m to €70m.

Mr Gilmore said the €113m proposed saving announced on Budget day is still valid.

But a source said the Tanaiste was just acknowledging the €113m figure is the only number officially recognised.

"If things change in the negotiations around the Service Plan then things change," the source said.

Irish Independent

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