Monday 25 September 2017

HSE scraps shorter working week in new redundancy plan

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE Health Service Executive (HSE) is introducing a redundancy scheme and will no longer allow staff to work a shorter week.

The targeted redundancy scheme will come into effect from January 1, according to a new memo from the HSE's director of human resources, Barry O'Brien.

He also said it would not be possible for a small number of staff who work a shorter week in return for lower pay to hold on to this perk.

He pointed out that under the Haddington Road Agreement, standard working hours increased from July. These can be clocked up on a "daily, weekly or annual basis to best meet service needs".

He said the concession to choose a shorter week "is no longer viable" and with effect from January 1, 2014, "all staff should be working the additional hours required under the agreement".

"This should facilitate a further reduction in agency and overtime costs," he said.

The additional hours mean that staff who were turned down for a three-year career break, on €12,000, will now have their applications reviewed.

The controversial 'yellowpack' contract jobs for graduate nurses and other grades will continue and provide the "additional resources to frontline services to reduce agency and overtime costs".

The latest memo comes against a background of failure by the HSE to realise savings of €150m from agreements made under the Haddington Road deal. It is expected to only generate €110m in savings.

Although hospitals, community and other services funded by the HSE are suffering from serious gaps in staffing due to the moratorium on recruitment, there is still scope to cut numbers in other areas under a targeted redundancy scheme.

At the end of August there were 100,578 staff employed in the health service and the target is to have this reduced to 98,938 at the end of the year.

The number of management and administration staff in the health service is higher than it was in 2001, according to new figures, with 15,600 managers in the service compared to 14,500 at the end of 2001.

WARNING

Their numbers reached a high of 18,400 in 2007. The number of nurses was at 34,313 in 2004 and is 34,528 today. It reached a high of 38,965 in 2007.

Meanwhile, the the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said it fully supported the letter from the CEOs of four major Dublin hospitals – the Mater, St James's Hospital, Tallaght Hospital and Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin – warning the HSE about the impact of cuts on patient safety.

General secretary Liam Doran said: "Over the past five years, the health budget has been reduced by €3.3bn, staffing has been reduced by 10,000, and 2,159 public beds have been closed.

"The INMO, over a year ago, highlighted the wholly inadequate staffing levels on wards, and demonstrated how poor they were compared to the UK. Despite this evidence, all attention continues to be on balancing books, not patient care.

"The letter from the CEOs confirms what this organisation has been saying for a number of years. Further cuts to the health budget, €666m announced in the budget for next year, are unsustainable. According to the CEO of the HSE, this figure may run to €1bn. Patient care will be compromised and safe practice will be impossible.

"The INMO is again calling on the Government to look at other revenue-raising measures, such as increasing the price of cigarettes, beer and cider and putting a levy on sugar sweetened drinks. All of these measures could positively influence current lifestyles, while raising revenue," he said.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News