HSE to review alleged €100k top-up

The HSE has launched a specific review into claims one of the country’s most high-profile doctors is allegedly receiving almost €100,000 in top-up fees a year.

A spokesperson confirmed the review is underway into the Master of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Rhona Mahony, after she was not named in the wider top-ups report.

Dr Mahony became embroiled in the extra payments scandal late last year after it emerged that, in addition to her €183,562 salary, she also takes home a €53,009 chief executive allowance and €45,000 in patient fees.

The patient fees money comes from a private clinic nearby Holles Street which is leased from the hospital, of which she and four other doctors working at Holles Street are directors.

Dr Mahony said last year she was being “vilified” and has “never received any additional remuneration from the health service or any other source, including fundraising and charitable donations”.

A HSE spokesperson said the ongoing review, launched in agreement with “senior” hospital staff, concerns “conflicting views as to the nature of the payment”.

News of the second review came as the wider HSE top-ups report uncovered a series of major issues still hampering the charities and voluntary hospitals sector.

According to the document, Ireland’s largest children’s hospital, Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, has argued for the retention of top-up payments to five senior staff members, amounting to more than €127,000.

The facility made a business case to the HSE that its chief executive should retain a €30,000 top-up to his €104,000 salary to keep it in line with the pay of his equivalents in Dublin’s main teaching hospitals, where the CEO scale is €136,000.

The hospital also wants to retain the allowance arrangements for four other senior staff members including:

- Pathology director: €16,649 for “additional duties allowances”;

- Clinical risk adviser: €27,931 allowance;

- Medical board chair: €36,417 allowance;

- Medical board secretary: €16,648 allowance.

Following a hospital review of the business cases, the HSE said the allowances were “not appropriate” and should cease by July. Last November, it emerged chief executive Lorcan Birthistle was receiving a €30,000 “privately funded allowance” top-up from the hospital’s tuck shop profits.

Similar problems are also apparent at Temple Street Children’s Hospital, where the HSE has said €109,000 in top-ups among nine senior staff must stop.

Business cases were also made by the Rotunda Maternity Hospital for €130,000 in allowances to nine senior staff members.

The hospital proposes holding on to €15,000 of the €16,000 privately funded top-up to its director of midwifery, Margaret Philbin, on top of her €81,552 salary. It also wants to keep €21,300 of allowances to the hospital’s general manager, Pauline Treanor, on top of her €92,821 salary.

The hospital has also proposed a top-up of “not more than” €25,000 for its master, Sam Coulter-Smith. He is currently in receipt of a €20,000 top-up from private funds on top of a €183,562 salary and an €49,545 on-call allowance.

The hospital’s financial controller is getting a top-up amounting to €19,000 while three senior clinical staff are receiving top-ups of between €13,500 and €16,000. None of those are publicly funded but the HSE has recommended they should be halted.

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