HSE service plan could be used to prevent top-up payments

Monday 25 November 2013 12.19
Jerry Buttimer believes the plan could be changed for health organisations that continue to pay executives top-up money on their salaries
Jerry Buttimer believes the plan could be changed for health organisations that continue to pay executives top-up money on their salaries

The upcoming Health Service Executive service plan could be used to prevent top-up payments to executives in voluntary hospitals, according to the Chairman of the Oireachtas Health Committee.

Jerry Buttimer believes the plan could be changed for health organisations that continue to pay executives top-up money on their salaries.

Mr Buttimer told RTÉ's The Week in Politics the service plan for the public health sector, which is set to contain cuts and savings totaling €666m, will go to Minister for Health James Reilly tomorrow.

The plan will give a breakdown of health spending and cuts for next year.

The HSE was given two extensions by Mr Reillly to finalise the plan.

It has also been overseen by officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of the Taoiseach.

It is set to be debated by the Oireachtas Health Committee in the coming weeks.

The HSE confirmed on Friday that 24 health agencies, including some hospitals, are paying top-ups to their managers.

Meanwhile, two of the country's largest disability service providers - the Cope Foundation and Saint Michael's House - have said no fundraising monies were used to top up executive pay or pensions.

An internal HSE audit concluded in March of this year that both agencies had used "non-public funds" to fund some senior staff salaries.

However, Cope Foundation Chairman Anthony Dinan told RTÉ's This Week that his organisation's CEO, Collette Kelleher, was paid entirely from Health Service Executive subvention funding.

Ms Kelleher's salary is topped up by more than €20,000 above the approved HSE salary scale for her post, which is just below €100,000.

The Cope Foundation is one of the country's leading disability service providers and has an annual turnover of around €60m.

Mr Dinan said the charity informed the HSE of its contractual pay arrangement with Ms Kelleher at the time of her appointment just over two-and-a-half years ago.

He said the organisation paid Ms Kelleher's salary out of the subvention funding given to the foundation and the HSE was aware of this since that time. 

A spokesman for Saint Michael's House in Dublin said its CEO, Patricia Doherty, was paid €151,000 prior to the Haddington Road Agreement coming into force in the summer, and €140,000 thereafter.

According to the HSE's audit dated March 2013, the HSE-funded element of Ms Doherty's salary at this stage, prior to the Haddington Road Agreement coming into force, was €138,000. 

Saint Michael's also insisted that no monies raised from fundraising had been diverted into executive salaries or pensions.

The comments from both organisations follow the revelation that more than half of the country's voluntary hospitals and health service agencies - so-called section 38 organisations - have said they are non-compliant with Government pay policy in relation to the remuneration of their senior executives.

Non-compliance includes the payment of any salary top-ups above the HSE's approved consolidated salary scales.

Special Needs Parents Association Chairperson Lorraine Dempsey told This Week there would be concern among parents if it emerged that HSE funding earmarked for services was being diverted to pay for salary top-ups to senior staff in disability agencies.

Independent Dublin TD Finian McGrath, who is the parent of a child who availed of services at Saint Michael's House, told This Week that revelations in recent weeks that the HSE was attempting to crack down on executive pay was a deliberate attempt by the Government to distract from plans to cut a further €666m from health services.