Belfast Telegraph

HSE faces criticism over allowances

A spending watchdog has criticised the already under-fire Health Service Executive (HSE) for stonewalling a review into public sector allowances.

The Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has accused health chiefs of withholding vital information from its probe into its finances.

Fine Gael TD Simon Harris said the committee had been promised information on overtime, sessional and on-call payments to staff two weeks ago, but had still not received it.

"In the interest of full transparency, all this information should have been provided," said Mr Harris.

The PAC has published a report stating that public sector pay structures were not fit for purpose.

The group claimed payments of allowances fell short of taxpayers' expectations of a modern, flexible and transparent pay system, and recommended immediate reforms.

The HSE had agreed with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to withhold information on the payments, claiming they were not classed as allowances and were for vital services.

In its report, the PAC claimed there had been issues surrounding the definition of what constituted an allowance as that within the HSE differed so much from the garda and Irish Prison Service.

But HSE officials bowed to pressure during a PAC meeting earlier this month, and said they would provide the relevant details in time for the publication of its report.

"It's a very worrying issue where the HSE seemed to come to an arrangement with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, whereby they were allowed to exclude payments for overtime, on-call payments and sessional payments from the review," said Mr Harris. "I think this is an absolute disgrace."

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