The Department of Health has declined to answer questions about who Dr Tony Holohan‘s secondment to a newly created post at Trinity College while continuing to fund his €187,000 civil service salary.
The chief medical officer will take up a post as Trinity professor of health strategy and leadership in July, with his salary and pension funded by the department, which is under pressure to spend its money on expertise to reform the ailing health care system.
Faced with questions at a meeting of the Oireachtas Health Committee yesterday, Secretary General of the Department Robert Watts announced that Dr. Holohan’s new role would be of “indefinite duration,” but didn’t provide an answer as to who signed the CMO change.
Mr Watt was himself at the center of a storm over a €81,000 pay rise he deferred during the pandemic and then took over after taking the top healthcare job, taking his salary to €295,000.
Senior politicians yesterday expressed their concerns about the circumstances surrounding the appointment of Dr. holohan off Public Expenditure Secretary Michael McGrath said yesterday: “Normally the receiving entity receiving someone’s services would pay the salary.
“So we just have to work through some specifics in the area and clarify with the Ministry of Health. There are questions.”
Social Protection Secretary Heather Humphreys said the issue could have been “handled better”.
And university ministers Simon Harris called for “clarity and information” about the appointment.
He said although no one understood the merits of appointing Dr. questioning Holohan on the academic post, questions would need to be answered.
The press office of the Ministry of Health did not answer a question about who signed the decision, Dr. paid Holohan’s salary during his tenure at Trinity, and whether he had appealed to the university on his behalf.
It was another bad day for the Department of Health, whose officials appeared before the Oireachtas Health Committee.
Her presentation dismayed members, who saw a watered-down version of Sláintecare’s plans to give regions more power to improve services for a record number of patients on waiting lists.
Mr Watt, the department’s general secretary, did not reply when asked by Fine Gael Senator Martin Conway who Dr. Signed Holohan’s new Trinity role.
Senator Conway said this could mean that the Department of Dr. Pays Holohan’s salary for another 20 years.
In response, Mr. Watt said the appointment of Dr. Holohan will be of “indefinite duration”.
Sinn Féin health spokesman David Cullinane said while he believes the appointment of Dr. Holohan will benefit, the term “posting” is not synonymous with a term of “indefinite duration”.
Public service posting policy is understood to include temporary transfers – generally for a period of six months to a maximum of five years.
The Public Expenditure Ministry said yesterday that as a common practice for secondments in the civil service, the civil servant’s salary will be paid by the “hosting department for the duration”.
It said it had the delegation of Dr. Holohan did not “sign” adding that “it is a matter between the board and the parent organization – in this case the Ministry of Health”.
A spokeswoman for Trinity College said “the processes that have made this appointment possible are neither unique nor unusual”.
She added: “It is a feature of academia – in Ireland and globally – that some professorships are paid for by external funding agencies, others by private companies or philanthropic donations.
“This appointment followed our regular process.
“The University is completely satisfied that the professorship provides timely and relevant teaching and research opportunities and that Dr. Holohan is ideally positioned to make a significant contribution.”
The latest controversy comes after another tense day at the Oireachtas Health Committee.
The government, the Department of Health and the HSE have been accused of watering down plans in the Sláintecare reform plan to give regions back control over the delivery of local health services.
Revelations that six new regional health boards to be set up by 2024 will be organized at an administrative level rather than on a strong legal basis caused dismay among committee members.
Social Democrat co-leader Róisín Shortall and Sinn Féin’s David Cullinane said this would leave the new authorities toothless with “more of the same”.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/wall-of-silence-so-who-did-sign-off-on-tony-holohans-187k-trinity-college-move-41528531.html Salary of Dr. Tony Holohan: Who signed the €187,000 bill to Trinity College Chief Medical Officer?