HSE denies it knew about CRC top-ups

A former Chairman of the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) has said the centre has not misused public funds and the HSE had been aware of privately-funded top-up payments from the Clinic's fundraising arm.

The HSE, however, has denied it knew about these top-ups. Health Minister James Reilly said as stated by the HSE, the arrangement entered into by CRC with its former CEO and other senior staff was not at any stage agreed to or sanctioned by the health executive.

The former CRC Chair, Des Peelo said the HSE informed it four years ago that it could no longer fund the additional payments for senior staff out of the annual allocation it gave to the CRC to run services for people with disabilities.

He said senior HSE executives were made fully aware at a face-to-face meeting four years ago that the CRC would use its own charity funds to pay top-ups to its managers.

He said the HSE informed it that it could no longer fund additional payments out of the annual allocation it gave to the CRC to run services.

"We had this meeting, a very amicable meeting, it took less than an hour to agree all of this and what happened at that meeting was that it was agreed that the salary levels would continue because we had contractual obligations."

Mr Peelo said the CRC could not unilaterally reduce the salaries concerned as it could have been sued under employment law.

In a statement yesterday, the CRC said it was agreed in 2009 that when the positions receiving top-ups became available through retirement or vacancy, new staff would be engaged on salaries purely in line with the Department's pay scales.

In the meantime, it was agreed that the difference between the Department of Health pay scales and the contractually obligated salaries of these staff would be funded through lottery proceeds received by its fundraising arm, the Friends of the CRC.

Mr Peelo rejected calls for the board of the CRC to resign. "No one has done anything wrong," he said.

The HSE in response said: "The arrangement entered into by CRC with its former chief executive and other senior staff at the organisation was not at any stage agreed to or sanctioned by the HSE. All HSE funded agencies are expected to comply with public pay policy."

Meanwhile Minister Reilly said last night he had requested urgent action to ensure that every agency was  fully compliant with Government pay policy.

The HSE, he said, had a team of senior managers following up with individual agencies, and it would take whatever actions were necessary to deliver full compliance and ensure that any governance deficits identified were  comprehensively rectified immediately.

Meetings were now being arranged with each agency concerned, the Minister said.

"Arising from this process, those found not to be compliant will be called in by the Director General (of the HSE) to meet him before Christmas. Such meetings will commence next week."

However, Dr Reilly rejected calls for an independent inquiry into the top-up controversy

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[Posted: Tue 03/12/2013]

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