Hospital sought charity for buildings

A voluntary children’s hospital has told the HSE it would apply for charitable funding for minor building jobs to allow it to reallocate money and indirectly cover its pension deficit.

The Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, revealed its plans to the HSE as part of a revised budget strategy to get it through 2012.

At the time, it projected a pension shortfall of €1.2m and applied to its sister charity, the Children’s Fund for Health, for €700,000.

In its presentation, it said it had set aside money for minor building work but if its charitable supporter paid for this it could redirect resources to address a large shortfall elsewhere.

It said this approach would allow it to work within the Children’s Fund for Health rules.

“The [hospital] Board also committed to make an approach to Children’s Fund for Health for a capital grant of €700,000,” the hospital said in the presentation in mid-2012.

“The amount of was arrived at following consideration of the strict criteria which CFI must adhere to in approving funding applications. Discussions are also ongoing re same.

“If successful, it is proposed that the intended purpose of such funds would be to defray the cost of various minor capital and minor project needs and to reallocate any specific funding already identified for such projects against other expenditure. Various approvals may be necessary in this regard.”

A budget released under the Freedom of Information Act showed the largest contributor to the problem was its pension bill.

At the weekend, it was revealed the HSE has spent €60m to bail out pension funds in 37 voluntary gro-ups in the past 24 months.

The largest amount went to the St Vincent’s Hospital group, which got €12m after telling the HSE its directors would be negligent if the business continued to trade without addressing the pension deficit.

The problem emerged in the voluntary sector after the early retirement scheme sapped resources from the unfunded superannuation schemes which are paid for out of current budgets.

In 2011, the cost to the HSE was €4m to meet the bill but in 2012 it rose to €39m.

Eventually, Temple Street received €1.3m in pension support in 2012 and has got €1.2m already this year.

Temple Street said its pension scheme was a defined benefits package that is ultimately underwritten by the Department of Health.

The hospital said that no charitable funds were used to directly pay for pension costs.

“Clinical, nursing, and research teams in Temple Street apply to the Children’s Fund for Health [CFFH], which is Temple Street’s dedicated fundraising arm, for grants to undertake different projects and expenditure which advance the treatment and care of the 150,000-plus children that are looked after in Temple Street every year,” said the hospital.

“Such applications to the CFFH are also made for capital funding to improve infrastructure within Temple Street as we wait for the new children’s hospital to be built on the St James site. No monies for projects approved for grants by CFFH have or would ever be used to fill a pension deficit.”

In a statement on the problems facing voluntary groups, the HSE said shortfalls arose sometimes but it currently did not have concerns.


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