The Master of the National Maternity Hospital, Dr Rhona Mahony, says the extra money she received in addition to her salary came from private fees.
HSE and Department of Health figures show on top of her €183,562 salary, Dr Mahony receives a chief executive’s allowance of €53,000 and an additional €45,000 for patient fees.
On RTÉ radio yesterday Dr Mahony was asked if she received a ‘top up’.
Dr Mahony said she believed people forgot she was a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist as well as the master and chief executive.
“I do provide private care for patients. So the additional income that was discussed was in fact derived completely from professional fee income which I am entitled to derive as a consultant obstetrician,” she said, adding that she was no different to any other consultant obstetrician with a similar contract.
“I think perhaps that point was missed that I am a practising obstetrician. I am a doctor. I deliver babies all the time. I am in at 3am like everyone else.
“I made a statement at the time. I stand over that statement. I never had anything to add to that statement. But I have to be really clear; this money was derived from professional fee income. There was no money derived from any State allocation and, very importantly, no money derived from any fundraising or any foundation, or anything like that.”
Asked if she found all the bad publicity very difficult to deal with, Dr Mahony said: “It’s not all bad, you learn a lot. Would I give back the experience? Actually, no, I think I learned a huge amount about myself, about how the system works. You also learn you have some great friends.”
At the end of the day what is fantastic about the National Maternity Hospital is that the babies kept coming, she said. “I think that keeps you on the ground and, suddenly all of these things go into a perspective. That’s really important.
“My job is to run Holles Street (the maternity hospital). My job is not to get distracted by things that actually maybe don’t directly affect patient services.”
As well as operating with the State under a service level agreement, the voluntary hospital generated a third of its income, mostly from private patients attending the hospital.
“If we did not have private patients in Holles Street, we would probably cease trading/ delivering around August-time. We rely on this income.”
Asked if the hospital was at war with the HSE, Dr Mahony said it was a difficult time for everyone
“We have seen a 7% reduction in our State allocation this year; we are unable to generate income because the number of private patients out there has fallen. So our ability to generate income to cover that hole, if you like, is really gone.”
Another concern for her was that newly qualified doctors were choosing to train elsewhere because the terms and conditions for working in Ireland were very difficult. “It is not just the salary; it is about how doctors in Ireland are working, particularly in areas like mine,” said Dr Mahony.
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