HSE staff in last minute rush to apply for redundancy
MORE than 3,000 staff have applied to leave the health service under two exit schemes that will save up to €200m a year.
Hundreds of staff made the decision to quit the public service at the last minute as Health Minister Mary Harney warned the voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes were a "once-off opportunity".
Earlier, Ms Harney said she would wait and see what the final level of interest was as the deadline for applications was not until midnight last night.
The HSE was hoping that up to 5,000 mostly administrative and managerial staff would apply -- although the schemes were also open to support workers like porters.
Although more than 9,000 staff enquired about the schemes, mostly from managerial ranks, just a third of this number actually applied.
Despite the tight deadline for applications last night, workers have until Tuesday week to decide if they want to accept or reject an offer.
They must be gone by December 30.
Ms Harney warned there would not be another redundancy and early retirement scheme for HSE administrative and support staff.
"That money will not be there again," she said. "I think people should think very carefully about what is available to them. It is a matter for each individual to think of their own circumstances and their family's circumstances."
She also stressed that there could be no more delay in implementing the Croke Park agreement in the health service because of the harsh cuts which would impact on services in the upcoming Budget.
She said it was essential that elements such as re-deployment and flexibility be put in place to achieve savings essential for the delivery of frontline services to patients.
Under the exit schemes, senior HSE managers could walk away with payouts of up to €350,000, as well as a generous pension.
An assistant national director on €100,000 with 40 years' service gets an immediate redundancy payment of €200,000, a lump sum of €150,000 on reaching retirement and a pension of nearly €38,000.
The Government announced it was allocating €400m to fund the schemes in the HSE -- which employs around 100,000 people -- at the start of this month.