Saturday 21 October 2017

33 nurses who took low-paid posts ready to start work

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

OVER 30 nurses hired under the HSE's controversial graduate scheme are ready to take up their jobs, the Irish Independent has learned.

New figures also show a growing interest in the jobs with the numbers applying climbing to 140, a rise of nearly 50 in the last month.

Nursing unions have been bitterly against what they call a "yellowpack scheme" and have campaigned against it, urging graduate nurses not to apply.

However, it would now appear that their influence is lessening as they focus more on the future of members who are already employed in the health service and the impact of Croke Park II.

Although the number of applicants has risen from the trickle of interest when the scheme was launched earlier this year, it still falls far short of the 1,000 the HSE had hoped for – although it is still hopeful it will generate more interest in the coming months.

The main criticism of the scheme is that the annual salary of nearly €22,000 for the two-year contract is 80pc of the normal starting wage of a new nurse.

The HSE said this could increase to €26,000 when premium payments were taken into account although these are to be reduced from double time to time and three quarters under Cork Park II proposals.

It is understood, however, that graduate nurses could be exempt from the Croke Park II proposal which would see a nurse's working week increase from 37.5 hours to 39 hours. This would see the graduate nurse continue to work a 37.5 hour week .

The HSE said yesterday that the 33 job applicants who had been passed for the jobs were currently undergoing clearance which would include garda vetting.

Meanwhile, Health Minister James Reilly said that subject to ratification of the proposals, significant savings would be made on the health pay bill through Croke Park II.

"Savings will be achieved through the reduction in the overtime rates payable, the elimination of twilight payments and a reduction in Sunday premium pay," he said.

"Savings will also be achieved through the progressive reduction in salaries over €65,000 per annum, measures to delay or freeze increments, and balancing measures for those already at the maximum of their scales.

Irish Independent

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