Taoiseach ‘annoyed’ at hospital top-up pay

The Taoiseach said he was “annoyed” by top-up payments made to senior hospital management over and above agreed salary scales.

Enda Kenny said the HSE chief-executive is in the process of preparing a report for the minister for health, which will be published.

“Top-up payments that were not authorised, that were unapproved and that came from non-exchequer funding sources that breached the public service pay agreement have to be dealt with.”

Asked if he was “annoyed” by the top-up revelations, Mr Kenny said: “Of course, I’m annoyed and I’ve made that very clear already. In all these cases there’s a due process to be gone through, of course, and that process is now under way and will be dealt with effectively and comprehensively.”

The Taoiseach was in Waterford for the Young Fine Gael annual conference attended by up to 600 delegates from around the country. He was greeted on his arrival in the city, following earlier engagements elsewhere in Co Waterford, by about 200 protesters who were demonstrating in favour of pension entitlements for the former workers at Waterford Crystal.

Following a ruling in the workers’ favour by the European Court of Justice earlier in the year, the case is due to go back to the High Court next Tuesday (Dec 3) as the pensioners attempt to have their entitlements protected by the government.

“I understand the frustration of workers who in some cases worked there for 40 years,” Mr Kenny said. “Obviously there’s a High Court case listed for Dec 3 and I can’t comment about what might come from that. That case is listed following a European case where there was clarification required on a number of matters. That clarification was given and it’s now before the High Court.”

The Taoiseach said the Government has approved a structure to deal with defined benefit pension schemes in cases of “double insolvency” or where the pension fund is going to be wound up. “That matter will be before the Dáil in due course.”

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Oireachtas Health Committee has said the HSE service plan could be used to end top-up payments to executives in voluntary hospitals. Cork South-Central TD Jerry Buttimer told RTE the plan could be amended for hospitals which continue give senior executives top-up payments.

The plan is due to be presented to Health Minister James Reilly today and is expected to contain cuts and savings of €666m.

The service plan is a result of chronic budget overruns at the department and details will be debated by the Oireachtas Health Committee over the coming weeks.

New chiefs

By Stephen Rogers

The HSE has advertised for chief executives to take charge of four of the seven new hospital groups.

The advertisements in the weekend media are for the leading positions in the Dublin North East, Dublin Midlands, Dublin East and South/Southwest groups.

That latter group covers nine hospitals in Cork, Waterford and Kerry, South Tipperary and Kilkenny.

Given the financial problems being experienced in the HSE, the advertisement states that each group will have a single management team which will be responsible for overall performance “within a clearly defined budget”.

Each will be responsible for 6-11 hospitals, including “at least” one major teaching hospital.

The HSE said it was looking for “high-achieving, resilient senior leaders” to take up the chief executive posts.

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