23 HSE consultants earned more than €400k in 2020

While nurses get by on an average of €35k to €40k, some clinicians earn salaries of up to €650k, more than the HSE CEO
23 HSE consultants earned more than €400k in 2020

The figures were released to Sinn Féin's health spokesman, David Cullinane. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

More than 20 HSE staff earned in excess of €400,000 in 2020, one staff member taking home between €640,000 and €650,000.

The figures show that the highest earners in the HSE are consultants, with 23 paid more than €400,000 in basic salary, overtime, and allowances. However, their take-home pay is far higher than that, once pension allowances and private earnings are factored in.

The HSE said that while salary scales for consultants top out at around €309,000, staff are paid overtime and allowances.  

“With the exception of the CEO, the staff referenced are clinical staff who would also be in receipt of extra allowances such as overtime, on-call time, expenses, etc,” it said.

Much has been made of the €411,000 salary of HSE CEO Paul Reid, the highest-paid non-medical member of staff, but the figures released to Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane, broken down by pay band, show that at least 15 people earned more than Mr Reid did in 2020. Of those:

  • Four earned between €420,000 and €430,000;
  • Two earned €440,000 to €450,000;
  • Two earned €450,000 to €460,000;
  • Three earned €480,000 to €490,000;
  • One received between €490,000 and €500,000;
  • One earned from €490,000 and €500,000;
  • There was one in the next band, and one earning from €590,000 to €600,000;
  • A lone employee pocketed €640,000 to €650,000.

Putting the figures into perspective, the average nursing salary is between €35,000 and €40,000.

The HSE said the information is “sourced from the HSE annual financial statements and is for HSE statutory services only”, so does not refer to work carried out in private capacities.

Mr Cullinane said it was important to interrogate how people were able to earn such high figures in the public sector.

“I’m astounded that it appears that 23 people are on over €400,000,” he said. “We need to understand where this money is coming from. My understanding was that that highest-paid member of the HSE would have been the CEO, but that is not the case.

I would find it startling that so many are on above €400,000. It’s extraordinary money. 

Mr Cullinane said taxpayers needed to know who is being paid these salaries and the full circumstances around them.

“We need clarity on the detail of these huge salaries and payments and the role of the individuals involved; how much of the amounts are basic pay, salaries, overtime or on-call payments,” he said. “Some may be legacy payments. 

"We need full transparency and a full breakdown of what role these individuals have within the HSE or hospitals and a full breakdown of all payments.”

The HSE’s payscales show consultants and professors can earn between €121,000 and €309,000 depending on contract type and position, but consultants are also entitled to other payments.

Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) information for consultants says B Factor payment is “to compensate you for your liability to be on call and is tiered for those on more onerous rotas”. These include annual payments of up to €10,460, while C Factor payments are made for specific callouts which have an annual limit of €22,203.

A new contract for hospital consultants, known as the Sláintecare contract, has been under negotiation for some time between health authorities and the IMO and Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA).

Health sources said it was likely that the top-paid staff are “extremely specialist” consultants, among a handful of people in Europe with certain expertise.

However, others pointed out that 837 consultant posts are vacant or filled by temporary staff. The IHCA says 412 of these posts are completely vacant, without a locum to see patients.

The figures show 23,412 of the HSE’s 67,000 or so staff earn over €60,000 a year.

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