Showdown with agencies over top-ups controversy

 James Reilly: Ordered HSE to end top-up culture

The HSE will start grilling specific voluntary hospitals and agencies embroiled in the top-ups controversy today over why they believe senior managers should be paid second salaries.

The schedule for which groups will be hauled in to explain the massive top-ups has not been revealed.

However, Health Minister James Reilly recently confirmed all the meetings will be concluded by Christmas and have been ordered by him in order to bring an end to the top-ups culture.

It is expected the organisations will be told that unless they can show extremely rare business case reasons for the extra pay, the HSE will insist the measures are stopped immediately.

If there is no deal on this, the HSE may deduct the money from the groups’ service level agreements. These contracts detail what funding the organisations will receive from the State, which provides the majority of Section 38 groups’ budgets, and are linked to the HSE’s 2014 budget, which must be published by Dec 16.

Dr Reilly also moved last night to assure Fine Gael TDs and senators he will “widen the net” to check what top-ups were paid to state-funded groups amid calls for more transparency.

It comes as the Central Remedial Clinic continues to refuse to answer questions over its use of private charitable donations to top-up senior salaries.

For the sixth day running, the group refused to clarify any issues about the affair.

They include the revelation — first reported by the Irish Examiner on Saturday — there is a €20m hole in the Friends and Supporters of the CRC’s accounts for between 1998 and 2011.

Over the period this group, which is linked to the CRC and includes a near identical board, received €27.856m in fundraiser money, which was meant for services for children with disabilities.

However, just €7.728m was sent on to the CRC, with €15.48m spent on a still unexplained “provision of loans to associates”.

The group’s PR company, WHPR, would not answer this or a number of other questions — including the names of the individuals receiving the funds, five of whom remain at the CRC.

While the CRC’s former chair, Des Peelo, told RTÉ on Monday the HSE allowed the group to dip into charitable funds to pay top-ups, documents prove this is not the case. Between Apr 24, 2009, and Nov 13 this year, the HSE wrote 18 separate letters insisting the CRC bring top executives’ salary levels into line. At no point was it stated donations would be used to make up the difference.


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