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 Header Item Health Services Provision (Continued)
 Header Item Charities and Voluntary Organisations

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 830 No. 3

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(Speaker Continuing)

[Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher] We are still waiting for the White Paper on health insurance. They could not even do the sums on it - the arithmetic, the mathematics, the logarithms. The logarithms were not even on that White Paper.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly What did Fianna Fáil do?

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Do not forget the progressions.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher And the progressions.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Fianna Fáil has been wonderful at describing the problem but not terribly good at dealing with it, as we all know. Despite a 10% reduction in staff, 20% reduction in budget and an 8% increase in our population, we have reduced the number of people waiting over a year for an outpatient appointment by 95%. The august Members of Fianna Fáil who were in government for 14 years did not even deign to count the number of people on outpatient waiting lists because they did not want to know.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher We had the Minister for the hyperbole on this side of the House then.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly It was very handy because my predecessor was not a member of the Fianna Fáil party, so it could leave her to deal with all the consequences.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher We never abandoned our colleagues.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Out of 103,000 people who were waiting longer than a year for an outpatient appointment in March 2013, there are now only 4,500 people. I accept it is still too many but we continue to address it.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher Half those people-----

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly Deputy Kelleher is into the old Fianna Fáil way of hype and spin. I deal in facts because-----

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher I am being a responsible Opposition Member.

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly -----I am interested in reality and the reality our citizens have to endure every day. I want to improve that experience for them. We will continue to improve the patient experience and, at the same time, continue our reforms.

  Deputy Kelleher is correct that the universal health insurance White Paper will be out very shortly.

Deputy Billy Kelleher: Information on Billy Kelleher Zoom on Billy Kelleher Will the sums be on it this time?

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly I look forward to his comments on it. I invite himself, Deputy Ó Caoláin and others to feed into that process because it will be about all of our health service. I want all of us to feel part of it and to have an input into it.

Deputy Alex White: Information on Alex White Zoom on Alex White Even you Billy.

Charities and Voluntary Organisations

 2. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Health Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly the date on which the report he commissioned on charities and other bodies funded by the Health Service Executive will be concluded and published; if, in view of revelations of excessive salaries and top-ups among some charities, he will initiate a public, independent investigation, including into any agreements or understandings between the HSE and these bodies; and if he will make a statement on the matter.  [6980/14]

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin This question seeks to establish when the report the Minister commissioned on charities and other bodies funded by the Health Service Executive will be concluded and published. Will the Minister initiate a public and independent investigation into all related matters?

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly This process commenced quite some time back arising out of the HIQA report into Tallaght hospital. The HSE internal audit directorate produced a report, which has been available on the HSE website since November 2013, on the remuneration of senior executives in section 38 funded agencies which found that several unapproved allowances were being paid to senior managers. I requested the production of this report as a result of concerns I had arising from the HIQA report into Tallaght hospital in May 2012.

  The HSE has taken urgent action to follow up on the findings of the audit report. Each section 38 agency was asked to confirm by 31 January this year that they would sign up to the HSE’s new compliance statement process. The compliance statement includes confirmation that all staff are paid in accordance with the Department of Health’s consolidated salary scales. The compliance statement also requires the agencies to confirm their compliance with their obligations under statute and under service arrangement with the HSE in respect of governance, systems of internal controls, taxation, finance, procurement, risk management and capital assets.

  This statement will have to be approved by the board of each agency on an annual basis, signed by the chairman and another director on behalf of the board and submitted to the HSE together with the organisation’s annual audited accounts. This annual compliance statement will be required in addition to the annual service arrangement between the agency and the HSE.

  The majority of section 38 agencies have now confirmed that they will co-operate with the new compliance statement process and a small number are expected to confirm this shortly. In addition, meetings have been held during the past weeks by senior managers in the HSE with the section 38 agencies to ensure those which are not compliant develop a clear plan to reach compliance as quickly as possible. In some cases allowances have been stopped. In the case of 26 agencies, in line with the Department’s pay policy, a business case is being made for the retention of unapproved allowances or of allowances in payment for more than five years.

  Up to 85 such business cases have now been submitted to the HSE, which has established a review panel to assess the merits of these cases. This process will take some time and should be completed by the end of March. Where the review panel is satisfied that there are legitimate reasons for continuation of an allowance business cases will then be submitted to the Department of Health which will liaise as appropriate with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

  Additional information not given on the floor of the House

  I am confident that the HSE will take whatever action is necessary to achieve full compliance with Government pay policy from the agencies concerned. I have no plans to establish an independent inquiry into the payment of unapproved allowances to senior executives at agencies funded under section 38 of the Health Act 2004.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Has the Minister been informed by the board of Rehab about the salary paid to the chief executive officer of the organisation? I understand the last figure for 2011 was in the order of €230,000 a year. It is important all of the entities in question are fully compliant and we have the restoration of transparency and confidence in this sector. This can only be done by adherence to the process outlined by the Minister in his reply.

Is it the case that the HSE did not request the specific salary of the chief executive officer of Rehab, as Rehab itself has claimed? Why would the HSE not request this information? Given the Minister’s statement that was interpreted as a threat to Rehab’s funding in the event of non-compliance, people with disabilities whose needs are provided for by Rehab could be put at risk. It is important the Minister’s reaction does not impact on the innocent and those who need the organisation’s services in the first place. Does the Minister agree with that?

Deputy James Reilly: Information on Dr. James Reilly Zoom on Dr. James Reilly The organisation to which the Deputy referred is a section 39 agency, not a section 38. Accordingly, it is not subject to public pay policy. Nonetheless, I, as well as the Government, believe that those organisations and charities in receipt of major taxpayer funding, anything over €250,000, should be in line with those pay policies. This process we initiated has been very careful and has followed due process. It has been fastidious in its fairness and continues to be so. We are not for turning on this matter and we will pursue this to the end. The idea of the necessity for an independent inquiry is not correct when the HSE is fully in control and bringing all these matters to light, seriatim, one by one. It will continue until we reach the end which we all wish to achieve, namely utter transparency around how public moneys are spent when they are given to organisations, be they voluntary, section 38s or section 39s. It is critically important to ensure, as all Members opposite agree, that when we give money for charitable purposes, we can have confidence that the money is spent in the manner for which it was intended, namely for services for those in need of them. That remains our position.

Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin Given that the Government has already significantly cut funding for services for people with disabilities, will he rule out, as I believe he should, further cuts to funding for critical services destined for people with disabilities, irrespective of what ongoing strains there may be with the board and the chief executive officer of Rehab? It is important the innocent are not penalised for the failures of senior management in any entity. Likewise, it is important service-users are respected and protected while the excellent staff of Rehab providing front-line service, care and supports are recognised for the role they play, as well as fund-raisers. Those who donate are innocent and are heroic in what they provide. It is important there is no conflict in this situation. Whatever actions may need to be taken in the event of non-compliance, they should not involve a reduction in funding destined for front-line service provision for people with disabilities.


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