THE HSE is refusing to say how many applications it received for low-paid graduate nursing jobs after a low turnout forced it to extend the closing date for the scheme.
The original closing date for the first phase of posts, which offered a two-year contract to graduate nurses of 2012 on salaries of €21,769, was tomorrow but this is now being extended for two weeks.
The renewed recruitment drive is also opening up the posts to graduate nurses of 2010 and 2011 in a bid to widen the pool of potential applicants.
Barry O’ Brien, head of human resources in the HSE, admitted today that the rate of application was “very slow “ but he refused to disclose any figures.
Nursing unions have bitterly opposed the scheme on the grounds the salary was just 80pc of the rate of a regular new recruit, although there was potential to top it up with another €4,000 in premium payments.
The HSE has already included the proposed €10m in savings, which it hoped to generate by employing the nurses, in its finances for 2013 and failure to realise this figure could lead to cuts in others hospital services.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said today the fact that the scheme is being extended to older graduates proved that it was not education-based but rather a clear attempt to recruit cheap labour.
The Directors of Nursing in hospitals across the country are now being enlisted to generate interest in the scheme among eligible nurses amid evidence that they have not been doing so to date.
The nursing unions said they will be raising the issue of the posts at talks on the new Croke Park agreement today, pointing out that it was not possible to cut pay to that level while also trying to get a new partnership deal.
The Irish Independent recently revealed that, even with limited experience, an Irish nurse recruited in New South Wales in Australia could command a salary of around €43,000. A nurse employed in inner London would receive around 25,579 plus an allowance of between €4,000 and €7,000.