Fine Gael Cork South Central TD and Chairperson of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, Jerry Buttimer, has said that the report of the Interim Administrator to the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) exposes the former Board’s attitude to spending public and charitable funding as it liked. Deputy Buttimer added that the HSE must learn from the report and put in place robust oversight and financial controls when dealing with non-statutory agencies to ensure transparency in the sector.
“This report gives us an insight into the thinking of the former Board of the CRC. It shows that there were questionable judgements made about the use of funding and in relation to salaries and pensions. The report clearly shows that the pay of senior staff was structured to avoid the full impact of public sector pay cuts. In contrast, the Administrator has found that public pay policy was ‘diligently applied to other staff’. This two tier approach is unacceptable in any organisation and it is a betrayal of the hard working staff who deliver the valuable services provided by the CRC.
“When concern about the operation of the CRC first arose it was disconcerting to hear that fundraising monies were used to top-up the salaries of senior staff. This was done using a separate company, Friends and Supporters of the CRC. The report demonstrates that this company was used to accumulate and record other sources of funding which were not disclosed to the HSE. The report states that the only rationale for establishing this company ‘was to maximise the HSE funding of CRC services’. In effect, this meant a distorted version of the money available to the CRC was used as the basis for allocating scarce public resources to the CRC. The previous Board clearly thought that it could do what it liked with public and charitable funding.
“The practices of the former Board of the CRC have undermined public confidence in the charity sector, this clearly had a direct impact on the CRC which has seen a sharp decline in fundraising revenues. I hope that the report of the Interim Administrator will go towards helping to restore this confidence. We must differentiate between the services being delivered and the practices of senior management.
“The CRC now has a new CEO and a new competency-based board. Its practices have changed and the work of the Interim Administrator has ensured the full compliance with public sector pay policy will be achieved by 2015. It also makes clear that Friends and Supporters of the CRC should be wound up and that all money raised should go directly to the CRC.
“On a wider policy level there are also lessons to be learned by the HSE and the report points to a number of changes that should be made when dealing with non-statutory agencies. It recommends assigning a dedicated HSE manager to have responsibility for each of the larger non-statutory agencies. Other recommendations include that service agreements must reflect the totality of relationships between service providers and the HSE and that funding should be based on specified outputs and prices. We have greater transparency in the use of charitable and public money so that we can ensure that they operate in the interests of the clients they serve.
“The Interim Administrator has brought the operation of the CRC into compliance with public sector pay policy and has ensured that a new CEO and Board will oversee the future operation of the CRC. I hope that this report will help to restore public confidence in the CRC and the excellent services that are delivered by its staff.”