Nine HSE pensioners received lump sums worth more than €400,000 on retirement while 16 get annual pensions of over €125,000

Nine former senior staff of the Health Service Executive were paid lump sums in excess of €400,000 when they retired from their jobs.

The nine pensioners were among 232 HSE employees who have walked away with golden handshakes worth more than €160,000 over the past six years.

These enormous lump sums have cost the taxpayer €63.5 million even while their former employers in the health service struggled desperately with cost over-runs and keeping to their yearly budgets.

The 232 former staff are also entitled to generous pensions, with 16 of them in receipt of annual payments worth between €125,000 and €139,000.

Another 78 are paid at least €100,000-a-year in their pension, according to figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the HSE.

HSE Pensions

The pensions have, at a conservative estimate — and based on the assumption that all of the individuals are still alive — cost €76 million to pay since 2010.

And they will for each year that they all continue to be paid cost just over €20 million more annually for the HSE.

Details of the pensions have been provided in a heavily anonymised format so that individuals cannot be identified based on previous pay.

They show that of the people who received lump sums worth more than €400,000, five retired in 2010 and four more the following year.

Nineteen more were paid lump sums of between €350,000 and €400,000 with two of them having only finished working with the HSE in 2015.

Another 68 former staff got between €300,000 and €350,000, with a raft of senior retirements over the course of three years: 26 in 2010, 17 in 2011, and 21 in 2012.

The sheer scale of lump sum payment does appear to have levelled off over recent years with a steady rise in the numbers being paid at the still incredibly generous rate of between €250,000 and €300,000.

The highest earning pensioners on an annual basis all departed between 2010 and 2013, according to the records.

Of those being paid between €125,000 and €139,000, nine ceased working in 2010, 3 in 2011, 3 in 2012, and a single person in 2013.

There was a raft of departures between 2010 and 2012 with enormous annual pension payments being made although the rates of pay will have faced cuts in recent years under financial emergency measures.

Of those being paid between €100,000 and €125,000, 29 left service in 2010, 22 in 2011 and another 20 in 2012. Three people who retired last year are also in that category.

Another 59 people are getting an annual pension worth between €75,000 and €100,000, while 76 receive an annual package worth between €50,000 and €75,000.

The HSE said in a statement: “Pension figures are calculated in accordance to pension scheme rules. Retirement benefits, retirement lump sum and annual pension allowance, are calculated on the scheme member’s pensionable remuneration at retirement.

“Pensionable remuneration comprises annual salary and pensionable emoluments. Emoluments consist of additional payments such as regular allowances … there were no enhanced arrangements in place for HSE staff.”

They said retired employees were entitled to their retirement benefits as calculated in accordance with the rules and that public sector pension reductions had applied to “all HSE pensioners”.

The figures were revealed in the week that the government disclosed figures to Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty that 500 public sector pension earners get more than €100,000 each, every year.

That means that of those 500 top earners, just under one-fifth of them are former employees of the HSE.

Those figures also include senior politicians including former taoisigh, Presidents, and government ministers along with other formerly high-ranking civil servants.

Among the highest earning former politicians have been former Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Brian Cowen, who both received golden handshakes of approximately €175,000 in 2011.

Since then, both Mr Ahern and Mr Cowen have been paid a six-figure annual pension, which in 2014 was worth just over €134,000 each.

Former Presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson also received six-figure pensions with Department of Finance figures showing Ms McAleese was paid €137,749 last year and Ms Robinson €121,158.

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