Growing concern on HSE hiring ban
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has described as 'nonsensical' the HSE's decision to freeze practically all staff recruitment in the health services.
The HSE recently announced that in a bid to reduce its deficit, it was halting all recruitment other than what had been provided for in specific funding allocated to expand primary care and mental health services this year.
It has said it will, however, look at the filling of critical posts outside these areas on a case-by-case basis.
INMO General Secretary Liam Doran, in a circular to members this week, said the latest recruitment pause was introduced without any prior consultation and breached procedures laid down in the Croke Park Agreement.
He said the INMO was seeking an immediate meeting with the HSE to have this 'nonsensical' recruitment decision reversed.
The circular states that a blanket recruitment ban causes great difficulties and compromises the ability of frontline staff to provide safe care.
Mr Doran told irishhealth.com that the recruitment ban was 'unworkable' and there were serious concerns among staff about its effect on the continued provision of safe patient care.
The INMO says it is awaiting clarification from the HSE with regard to the application of the recruitment freeze to essential nursing/midwifery posts.
Mr Doran said there were concerns about the provision of nursing services in areas such as diabetes and epilepsy care as a result of the recruitment ban.
A HSE spokesman told irishhealth.com that outside the primary care and mental health areas, for which specific recruitment funding had been provided for 2012, the HSE would now look at filling any other essential posts on a 'case-by case' basis in the context of the recruitment pause.
The new hiring ban extends the scope of the recruitment freeze introduced in the health service back in 2009, which banned the filling of vacancies except in a range of designated staff areas.
Meanwhile, the INMO has said that, in common with other health unions, it will not engage in any talks with the HSE and Department of Health on proposed reductions in overtime or premium pay.
Talks between management and unions last week on savings measures including cutting overtime pay and getting staff to work longer hours broke down, and the HSE is now likely to refer the issue to the Labour Relations Commission.
Health unions said cutting back in agency staff will lead to reductions in services, as most agency staff is there to fill existing service gaps due to staff shortages.
The HSE is pressing ahead with plans to cut back in areas such as overtime, agency pay and drug costs. This is despite the fact that its deficit is now likely to be reduced by €200 million through funding from the UK Government for treating its citizens resident here and from advance payments from the VHI to public hospitals for treating private patients.
[Posted: Wed 01/08/2012]