Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure Seán Fleming has revealed that the Government has known since last March about the excessive top-ups for hospital bosses.

Deputy Fleming said a HSE internal audit, commissioned by the Minister for Health James Reilly, which covers the salaries and top ups of all senior hospital executives across the country was finalised on 15th March 2013. It followed a HIQA report the previous May, which highlighted concerns about Tallaght Hospital.

“The Taoiseach has misled the Dáil and the Irish people by claiming that his Government had no idea about the excessive payments being granted to certain top hospital executives,” said Deputy Fleming.

“The reality is that the Minister himself requested an internal audit of all 38 hospitals and disability agencies, and as such he would have been one of the first to receive the report when it was finalised on the 15th of March.

“The evidence shows that the Government has turned a blind eye to this since it received the audit 8 months ago. All the while, the same Government was engaged in a slash and burn of small, basic allowances for lower paid health workers. Public servants who were subjected to cuts during the Haddington Road negotiations will wonder why the exorbitant take-home salaries of these top executives were exempt, when the Government was certainly aware of them.

“What happened to the Taoiseach’s claim that he is taking a ‘hands on’ approach to the Department of Health? Was this just more empty spin from the Taoiseach? What needs to happen now is that top-up payments to senior personnel in publicly funded hospitals must be stopped now. These facilities get the vast majority of their funding from the taxpayer and as such their senior executives must be subjected to the same public service pay scales

“The timing of this is also very suspicious as concerns grow about the scale of the budget crisis in the Department of Health and the need for a substantial supplementary funding. As we wait for the HSE Service Plan and fear the worst about what it will contain, the Government has attempted to shift the focus away from its own mismanagement of health services. This confirmation that the Government has known about the issue for some 8 months demonstrates very clearly the cynicism of the Government’s posturing on the issue.”