herald

Thursday 24 August 2017

HSE 'five-star hotels spend was excessive'

Merrion Hotel in Dublin, one of the hotels expenses claims were filed for
Merrion Hotel in Dublin, one of the hotels expenses claims were filed for

HSE managers "excessively" claimed for nights in five-star hotels and alcohol on trips, a damning audit of the organisation has found.

A draft Comptroller and Auditor General report revealed €300 claims for the luxury Merrion Hotel in Dublin and €500 a-night for a hotel in Milan.

The damning 42-page draft audit of the HSE by the C&AG, sent to Oireachtas members last night, reveals a litany of flaws, oversights and errors in practice within the Health Sector.

"Claims for hotels appeared excessive," the report claimed.

It also found an employee "travelled to New York for a conference accompanied by a personal guest". Flights were claimed for this guest and the hotel bill claimed.

"Another two claims had alcohol included in reimbursement receipts," the report found.

The document said that the lack of control over the payment of medical education expenses could "give rise to improper expenditure and financial loss to the Exchequer".

The C&AG recommended that the HSE should ensure that there are proper control procedures in place over the payment of such expenses.

Error

It was confirmed last night that the document was sent inadvertently to senators by a HSE official. The HSE last night said the document was sent in error to Senators as a result of "human error".

A spokesman for the HSE outlined that it was a draft document in response to the C&AG's report.

The audit report also found that the HSE is currently paying one former employee, who had been rehired, a salary of €156k from an old consultant pay scale instead of placing them on the new entrant scale of €109k.

The C&AG concluded that this situation increases the risk of a salary overpayment occurring.

The report recommends that the HSE ensures that any retired employees rehired are placed on a correct salary scale.

Separately, more than €1.4m in salary overpayments to HSE staff have not been paid back, a draft audit document in to the health sector has revealed.

The document shows that salary overpayments totalling €2.9m were made and "no repayments had been made in 2013 in respect of €1.4m of these."

hnews@herald.ie

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