DELAYS in the processing of increased pension entitlements to former employees of a Northside hospital have been severely criticised.
Former workers of St Ita’s Hospital in Portrane are among 2,000 pensioners throughout the country who are still awaiting a pension increase after seven years.
The pensions should have been increased as far back as 2005, under a Government agreement (Circular 20/2005) entitled ‘Public Service Pension Reform: Revised arrangements for part-time public servants’.
However, the Health Service Executive (HSE) said it has made significant progress on the issue.
The former hospital workers were generally employed as care staff, drivers, porters and general operatives by the HSE.
Dublin North TD Brendan Ryan (Lab), who has highlighted the issue, said the workers’ pension entitlements should have been integrated with their social welfare pensions.
Deputy Ryan has raised the issue a number of times in the Dáil in an attempt to draw attention to the matter.
“This issue is absolutely disgraceful,” he told Northside People.
“The HSE are using the excuse that the staff who should be processing these payments have since left.
“If the issue had only arisen last year then there wouldn’t be such a big problem, but it's been going on for over seven years now.”
Deputy Ryan said he has been repeatedly told that the reason these increases have not been implemented is due to the complexity of the work involved and the lack of resources within the HSE.
“This is no longer acceptable and I am seeking a guarantee from the Minister that these changes will be implemented by the end of 2012.
“The implementation of the pension entitlements could be dealt with through a modest increase of the former employees’ social welfare pensions.”
Deputy Ryan explained that the weekly pension rate could be increased by anything between e5 and €70, depending on the individual circumstances of the former workers.
“Any increase would make a massive difference to their quality of life,” he stated.
“During the past seven years, senior executives of the HSE have left the system with huge bonuses and massive pensions.
“At the other end of the scale, nearly 2,000 of some of the lowest paid workers in the public services have been denied the benefits of an increase which was granted to them by the Government in 2005.”
Deputy Ryan added: “This is a scandal that must be rectified immediately.”
In a statement, a spokeswoman for the HSE told Northside People: “Significant progress has been made on this issue recently and a full examination has now taken place of all files.
“This process has identified approximately 1,100 people in the former Eastern Health Board (EHB) area as being potentially due a revision under the terms of Circular 20/2005.
“In relation to those 1,100 people, work has now been completed on approximately 220 people's files or 20 per cent of all cases.”
The spokeswoman added: “It is planned that this circular will be fully implemented by the end of 2012 and that any monies due to people will be paid in that timescale.”