HSE insists 'no recruitment embargo'

  • Deborah Condon

The HSE has insisted that there is no recruitment embargo in place within the public health system. This is despite claims by the IMPACT trade union that a range of cutbacks in the Dublin/mid-Leinster region in the coming months will lead to the loss of 100 more jobs.

Almost 28,000 healthcare workers, who are members of IMPACT, are currently taking part in industrial action in response to what the union claims is a recruitment freeze by the HSE.

It insists that no vacancy can be filled unless another post is suppressed and this is having a major effect on services and staff. It claims that this recruitment freeze has left 2,700 vital jobs unfilled.

Since May 21, the workers in the HSE and HSE-funded organisations have refused to cover posts left vacant by the recruitment freeze. They have also stopped co-operating with HSE advisors, blocked non-emergency overtime and out-of-hours work and halted co-operation with the HSE’s ‘transformation programme’.

Furthermore since earlier this month, members have been instructed not to assist or participate in the provision of information, or to attend meetings connected to a range of reporting activities. These include meetings on activity levels, employment control reports and HSE corporate financial reports.

Throughout this action, IMPACT has released figures which it claims reveal the devastating effects of this recruitment freeze. For example, a succession of lost occupational therapy posts in Carlow and Kilkenny has left major gaps in services for children with special needs.

Today, IMPACT said that members working in the Dublin/mid-Leinster region have been told that a range of cuts are due to be imposed in the coming months. These will include the loss of 100 more posts, the closure of one, as yet unidentified, residential unit, a region-wide ban on overtime and a halving of on-call arrangements.

However the HSE has again insisted that no recruitment embargo is in place. It said that since January 2008, over 3,400 posts have been approved to be filled, which will bring the total number of staff employed across the HSE, voluntary hospitals and voluntary agencies, to 128,000.

“In short, recruitment continues to happen, with a large number of important medical consultant posts approved and advertised every week”, it said.

It added that it has invited IMPACT to meet with senior management on June 17 to engage in dialogue, ‘with a view to agreeing a process towards resolving this dispute’.

Discussions on this topic are now closed.