The voluntary hospitals top-up pay scandal is damaging news for both the sector and patients dependent on it.
But this is not the first time this type of crisis has emerged.
At the start of this year, two internal inquiries into practices at Tallaght Hospital in Dublin found a “parallel executive payroll” existed for some of the facility’s most high-ranking officials between 2005 and 2010.
The hospital is one of a large number to regularly warn that it does not have enough money to provide basic care to vulnerable patients.
However, the two audits found it was still able to find just under €671,916 in extra pay for the as yet unnamed individuals over the five years.
According to the Ernst & Young files, first reported by Irishhealth.com, the top-up pay ranged from €24,000 to €259,000, including:
nOne person who received €225,833 in extra pay from 2005 to 2010.
Separate figures showed this individual also received a €61,220 bonus between 2001 and 2004; a €12,166 payment in 2006; and monthly “non-pensionable allowances” were also provided.
The reports said there was “no supporting documentation” available to explain the extra fees, or where exactly they came from.
In total, this individual received more than €1m in salary and top-up pay over five years.
nAnother employee received €104,667 in top-up pay, supported by letters from the then hospital chief executive and board.
nA third person was given an extra €61,250 based on their employment contract; a fourth received an unexplained €24,000, approved by the then hospital chief executive .
The second payroll’s existence was initially revealed by a May 2012 Health Information Quality Authority report into Tallaght’s emergency department, at which point its closure was confirmed.
Ernst & Young noted those involved had “inconsistent recollections” as to how or why the top-up fees were approved, and said there was “no evidence” explaining “the rationale for or the approval of the supplementary payroll”.
€550,000 in top-up payments
The chief executives of 19 of Ireland’s leading voluntary hospitals and agencies are receiving almost €550,000 a year in extra top-up payments.
Department of Health figures show the massive pay-outs are being provided through both taxpayer and unspecified private sources.
This is despite the fact the officials involved, whose facilities receive significant charity contributions from the public, already earn between €96,735 and €183,562 basic salaries.
The facilities range from rehabilitation units to disability services, high-profile hospitals to maternity units, with the six highest top-up fees listed below:
- Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children, Crumlin, Lorcan Birthistle: Basic salary: €110,808 Top-ups: “allowance for supervision of auxiliary activities and franchise income”/tuck shop (€30,000) Total salary: €140,808
- National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street. Dr Rhona Mahony: Basic salary: €183,562. Top-ups: masters/CEO allowance (€53,009); privately funded extra payment (€45,000), on-call allowance (€321). Total salary: €281,892
- Rotunda Hospital, Dr Sam Coulter Smith: Basic salary: €183,562. Top-ups: On-call allowance (€49,545), privately funded extra payment (€20,000). Total salary: €253,107
- Coombe Hospital, Dr Sharon Sheehan: Basic salary: €183,562. Top-ups: masters allowance (€63,559). Total salary: €247,121
- The Mater, Brian Conlan: Basic salary: €145,959. Top-ups: privately funded extra payment (€26,625). Total salary: €171,584
- Central Remedial Clinic, Paul Kiely. Basic salary: €106,900. Top-ups: masters allowance (€19,016), privately funded extra payment (€116,949). Total salary: €242,865
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