St Vincent's to separate public and private roles

Thursday 16 January 2014 21.48
Chairman of St Vincent's University Hospital Noel Whelan said it is compliant with pay policy
Chairman of St Vincent's University Hospital Noel Whelan said it is compliant with pay policy

The chairman of St Vincent's University Hospital has told the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee that it believes it is compliant with public pay policy.

However, Noel Whelan said the Health Service Executive does not agree with this assessment.

He told the committee that St Vincent's has now agreed to separate the public and private roles of managers.

Geraldine Smith of the HSE told the committee it wrote to the group five times and was told it was in compliance with pay policy.

In July it was told that there were three managers who were paid additional money from private funds, but as it was from private funds it was not appropriate to give additional information.

Mr Whelan said legal advice from Senior Counsel Michael McDowell indicated St Vincent's was in compliance with pay policy as public money was not being used.

In his opening address, Mr Whelan outlined how the group operates three hospitals - St Vincent's, St Vincent's Private and St Michael's Hospital, Dún Laoghaire.

He said the private hospital was set up to increase capacity for the public hospitals by catering for insured patients and those who can afford to pay.

Mr Whelan told the committee financial clarity exists between the three hospitals and there is a clear distinction between the accounts of the facilities.

He said the hospital will add a public interest committee to its governance structures and this will be in addition to existing committees.

Group CEO Nicholas Jermyn said the position of those paid with top-ups is the same as any public servant who has an additional employment.

Asked where the top-ups where coming from, Mr Jermyn said some came from the public and some came from the resources of the private group.

Mr Whelan said St Vincent's believes it is compliant with pay policies but now has to get the HSE to agree.

Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald suggested the group was digging its heels in.

"We're swinging around to compliance," Mr Whelan replied.

RTÉ News understands the group has held detailed talks in recent weeks with the HSE on an agreed pathway to compliance with public pay policy and will outline progress on this today at the PAC.

The committee was told St Vincent's received €220m of public funding last year.