Man in hospitals dispute gets Cork Mater job

A man with whom 500 staff refused to co-operate following his appointment as chief operations manager to a Limerick hospital group has been appointed chief operations manager at the Mater Private Hospital in Cork.

Liam Casey, from Watergrasshill, Co Cork, was hired by the HSE in January 2013 from a private sector management company, Starline, and appointed interim director of the University of Limerick Hospitals Group.

The following year he moved into the role of chief operations manager after two failed attempts by the group to fill the post.

A subsequent HSE internal audit found management did not have a variation order or a new contract to reflect this role. It was confirmed by the then-group chief executive — Ann Doherty, who is now chief executive of Cork City Council — that she had authorised these role changes because of the inability to fill the role by recruitment.

The audit said the total paid to Starline Management Consulting Limited was €274,413 (gross) from January 2013 to May 2014 and that an invoice rate of €700 a day plus Vat was charged from the inception of the contract.

When Mr Casey was initially appointed, it was on a contract that was expected to cost about €45,000. The audit found that because of the extension of the arrangement, the value of the contract meant it had breached the threshold for EU tendering, which is set at €207,000.

When details of Mr Casey’s remuneration emerged last year, approximately 500 members of the Impact trade union across five hospitals voted in favour of industrial action.

Impact argued that a public servant appointed to the position would have been paid €116,000, but that Mr Casey’s appointment was on the basis that he operated as a consultant and not a member of staff.

The matter was raised at the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee, where HSE director general Tony O’Brien was asked to investigate the salary being paid to Mr Casey. Mr O’Brien subsequently commissioned the internal audit.

It found the contract was not advertised but that known providers of such services were contacted by HSE procurement and asked to submit a tender.

It said the contract for the “interim management resource” was procured in line with the expected cost of €44,800 and was awarded to a sole trader, Liam Casey FM Consulting. It said the sole trader had subsequently “altered arrangements to act through Starline Management Consulting Limited, set up as a limited company on January 31, 2013”.

The original contract was estimated to run for three months but, after it was varied to widen his role, Mr Casey was with the group for almost two years, until the contract ended last November. There was no suggestion of wrongdoing by Mr Casey.

The Mater Private Hospital in Cork has now announced the appointment of Mr Casey as chief operations manager.

Anna Fitzgerald, the hospital’s chief executive, said of Mr Casey that he has “a great understanding of the healthcare sector”, is “forward thinking and dynamic, and has exceptional interpersonal and team development skills, and will no doubt help Mater Private Hospital Cork cement our reputation in excellence even further”.

The hospital did not wish to comment in relation to the UL Hospitals Group controversy.


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