Mahony: I’ve broken no rules, I’m being vilified over extra cash

The master of Holles Street hospital has defended herself from being “vilified” over top-up payments, insisting she has broken no rules over the financial affair.

Dr Rhona Mahony took the stance after a week of outrage over the €3.2m in extra allowances given to senior managers at voluntary hospital and agency groups.

Figures released by the HSE and Department of Health show that in addition to her €183,562 salary, she also receives €53,009 in a CEO allowance, €45,000 in patient fees, and €321 in on-call payments.

Dr Mahony has been one of a number of officials at hospitals to have been heavily criticised for receiving the extra sums while patients are told no money is available for their care.

However, in a statement, the Holles Street chief insisted she has done nothing wrong: “My remuneration as master is strictly in line with the contract I have with the National Maternity Hospital and is exactly in compliance with public service pay requirements.

“As a consultant obstetrician my contract allows me to provide clinical care to private patients, as is the case with all consultants in the health service who have the same contract as myself.

“The provision of private patient care is fundamental to the health service as currently structured.

“The €45,000 paid to me, and labelled by the media as a ‘top-up’, is in respect of professional fees from private patients attending the National Maternity Hospital. The existence of this income has been reported to the HSE in May 2012 as part of a routine confidential internal audit.

“To be absolutely clear, I have never received any additional remuneration from the health service or any other source, including fundraising and charitable donations. I have been personally vilified over the last few days. This has been utterly unwarranted.”

A spokesperson for Holles Street also released a statement, saying the hospital is in “full compliance with public service pay requirements”.

He said no charitable donations to the hospital are re-routed away from patients, and that the facility supports Dr Mahony.

Meanwhile, voluntary hospitals and agencies which are still breaching public sector pay rules regarding top-up payments will be named and shamed today.

Sources said the HSE will provide Health Minister James Reilly with the list this afternoon before it is made public.

Facilities which are still in breach of the pay scales by paying senior officials top-up ayments are expected to be hauled before the public accounts and health committees to explain why the funds are provided.

Health committee chairman Jerry Buttimer said the groups will also be examining whether State nominees can be put on the hospitals’ boards to ensure the issue is not repeated.

“We are spending in excess of €3bn on section 38 hospitals and it is very important they are held to account,” he said.

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