The new consultant contract “may have an inflationary impact” on the level of earnings above €300,000 in the HSE, according to the Executive. A proposal to increase the threshold by which an employee is defined as a ‘high earner’ is under “active consideration”, it confirmed.
The issue was raised at a meeting of the HSE audit and risk committee in June, during a discussion about an action plan arising from an internal audit into “high” earning consultants in 2022.
According to minutes of the meeting, the committee asked if “there would be merit” in assessing the definition of a high earner. The current HSE threshold for high earnings is set at €300,000.
In a reply sent to the Medical Independent in late September, a HSE spokesperson confirmed that a “proposal to increase the threshold going forward is under active consideration currently”.
“There are a range of factors which would support increasing this threshold including the unwinding of measures introduced as part of FEMPI legislation and the new public-only consultant contract which provides for a higher basic salary and allowances.”
The spokesperson said the new contract “may have an inflationary impact” on the level of earnings reported in excess of €300,000. They also confirmed that the action plan on high earners, discussed at the HSE audit and risk committee, was being “implemented”.
On 5 October, the HSE CEO Mr Bernard Gloster appeared before the Oireachtas public accounts committee, where he also addressed the issue.
Mr Gloster told committee members that the threshold was “likely to require adjustment as the new consultant contract will mean that a significant number of employees will be above that figure when all dimensions of the contract are factored in”.
He added that improvements were required regarding the “control environment and inconsistency of approach” that has led to some of the high earnings recorded within the HSE.