The top doctor in one of the country’s largest maternity hospitals has said she has been vilified and faced unwarranted criticism over her earnings in a row over executives’ top-up pay.
Rhona Mahony of the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street said her wages are strictly in line with public sector rules and that any additional money she earns is from her private practice.
She denied earning additional money from the health service or through fundraising or charity.
As Taoiseach Enda Kenny revealed a number of hospitals stonewalled calls to confirm if they comply with salary scales, the leading consultant obstetrician hit out at her name being linked to the controversy.
“To be absolutely clear, I have never received any additional remuneration from the health service or any other source, including fundraising and charitable donations,” she said.
“I have been personally vilified over the last few days. This has been utterly unwarranted.”
Some hospitals and health agencies are being called before Government committees to explain if and why they have breached salary caps.
Dr Mahony said she earned an additional €45,000 in private fees last year and accused the media of labelling it a “top-up”.
She said the rest of her salary was strictly in line with her contract at Holles Street and complied exactly with wider health service rules.
“As a consultant obstetrician my contract allows me to provide clinical care to private patients, as is the case with all consultants in the Irish health service who have the same consultant contract as myself,” Dr Mahony said in a statement.
“The provision of private patient care is fundamental to the health service as currently structured.
“The 45,000 euro paid to me, and labelled by the media as a ’top-up’, is in respect of professional fees from private patients attending the National Maternity Hospital.
“With regard to this, I have the same contractual terms as all other medical Consultants in the Irish health service who have the same contract.
“The existence of this income has been reported to the HSE in May 2012 as part of a routine confidential internal audit carried out by the HSE.”
Dr Mahony said she owed it to herself, her family, colleagues and patients and to people who donated money to Holles Street to explain her earnings.
The Taoiseach had earlier pledged to put an end to the practice of senior staff at hospitals receiving what have been called “unauthorised payments”.
The country’s 44 hospitals and health agencies had until Tuesday night to provide the HSE with information on wages after it emerged that a senior manager at Tallaght Hospital was paid an additional €150,000 in payments since 2005.
As the deadline for disclosure loomed, it was revealed that 13 hospitals or health agencies had admitted non-compliance with salary rules.
An audit of pay at the hospitals and health agencies was ordered by Health Minister Dr James Reilly, which saw the HSE send two letters to the 44 voluntary hospitals and disability agencies demanding to know the wages and allowances of its most senior staff.
The letters sent to the non-HSE run facilities also warned salary scales must be strictly adhered to in future.
“This is a legacy issue,” Mr Kenny said.
“We can’t have a situation where people have taken a serious hit in respect of their work and lifestyle as a consequence of restructuring and changing the conditions of employment and salaries and so on; have taken all that pain to find that unauthorised and unapproved top-up payments from non-exchequer sources have been paid to chief executives.
“This must and will stop.”
The HSE would not reveal how many of the 44 hospitals failed to respond despite the deadline passing on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman said officials were in the process of reviewing and verifying the responses received for a report to be sent to Dr Reilly.
“It is hoped that we will be in a position to furnish this to the minister this week,” she said.
“This complexity of the issues is being given due regard and consideration, and further information will be available in due course.”