ALMOST nine out of every 10 HSE staff who applied for an incentivised career break (ICB) had their application rejected, but the health service says it is now reviewing unsuccessful applications in a bid to slash staff numbers.
The scheme, which offers one-third of the worker's gross salary up to a maximum of €12,000 annually for three years, was introduced last May as part of an effort to cut 1,500 staff from the health service.
Some 2,732 people from the HSE and other HSE- funded bodies applied for the break but 2,395 of these were rejected, figures released to the Irish Independent show.
That means that only 337 HSE employees -- slightly more than 10pc of those who applied -- had their applications granted.
But a review of unsuccessful applications has now been undertaken by the HSE and by a number of other bodies who receive funding from the HSE.
A HSE spokeswoman said: "In order to contribute towards the number of reductions required under the 2014 Employment Control Framework -- as well as the corresponding reduction in expenditure -- it has been decided to conduct a review of unsuccessful applications received under the 2013 ICB Scheme."
She said that the review began on December 19 and continues until February 7 2014. Those granted the break after the review must start it on April 1.
There were 1,934 ICB applications in the HSE, with the remaining 768 applications received from staff of HSE-funded bodies.
* HSE West received 469 applications and granted 64,
* HSE South received 499 applications and granted 54,
* HSE Dublin Mid Leinster received 319 applications and granted 38,
* HSE Dublin North East received 321 applications with just 26 granted,
* HSE Corporate received 376 applications and granted 41 ICBs.
The terms of the career break were detailed in a circular sent to senior management and staff in May.
It was open to employees with two years' continuous service while the €12,000 pay is subject to tax and other deductions.
Successful candidates are not available for taking up paid employment in the State, with any agency or company providing services to a publicly funded body.
When they return to work they will be "assigned to the next appropriate vacancy", the circular said.
But this is not necessarily the same work or location as they left and can be within 45km of their work location or home.
A previous incentivised career break, which was offered by the HSE in 2009, only attracted a couple of hundred workers. It was offering €12,500 a year.