Taoiseach's hollow health staff pledge
Funding promised by Taoiseach in the Dail yesterday to ease staff shortages following the exodus of over 3,700 staff from the health service later this month had already been allocated to fill existing long-standing vacancies, new posts, and plans for service development.
Enda Kenny told the Dail yesterday that €23.4 million was being made available under the HSE's clinical programmes to improve care of acute and chronic conditions, €20 million was being given to primary care services and €35 million was being allocated to mental health.
He said this was all part of a process of targeted investment and recruitment and some key vacancies would be filled.
The Taoiseach was responding to a query from Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams about contingency plans for the expected exodus of 3,800 staff on retirement from the health service by the end of the month and on whether the embargo on recruitment would be continued in light of this exodus.
However, the funding detailed by the Taoiseach had already been announced as part of the HSE's capital plan last month, and was not specifically targeted at the current spate of early retirements of staff, who are leaving by the end of February to avail of better pension entitlements.
In the case of the HSE clinical programmes, the €23.4 million allocated to it in 2012 was supposed to have been allocated last year to recruit staff to develop these programmes in hospitals but funding was not provided.
The €35 million funding for mental health mentioned by the Taoiseach had already been allocated to develop the Vision for Change programme and is targeted at hiring additional, rather than replacement staff to progress the development of mental health care
The €20 million mentioned for investment in primary care was already allocated to fill existing vacancies that had accrued under the recruitment embargo, which has been in place since 2009, and was not specifically targeted at dealing with the current early retirement issue.
Under the current spate of early retirements, around 3,700 staff will have left the health service between late last year and the end of February. These include over 1,000 nurses and 80 doctors and dentists.
Mr Adams said in reply that there was no dynamic plan in place to manage the departure of 3,700 staff, the ongoing recruitment embargo and and the closure of hospital beds.
[Posted: Thu 09/02/2012]