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1,000 HSE temporary staff laid off as new jobs filled

UP to 1,000 staff on short-time temporary contracts of less than a year are to be let go by the HSE. The move will allow the creation of the same number of permanent posts to improve a range of services including child psychiatry and care of the elderly.

The temporary posts need to be sacrificed if the HSE is to stay within the employment ceiling set by the Department of Finance.

The main emphasis in the new jobs will be on staff who will deliver community-based rather than hospital services, in keeping with HSE policy.

Areas earmarked for the new staff include primary care teams, where more nurses, therapists and social workers will be hired. Also benefiting will be services for older people including public nursing homes and disability services.

Staff will also be appointed to some inpatient child and adolescent psychiatry services, renal services, paediatrics, transplant units and cystic fibrosis care.

A spokesman said that "given the government embargo on recruitment and the need to stay within its employment ceiling it needed to "restructure" the workforce. In order to do this, the numbers of people currently on short-time temporary contracts has to be reduced.

Local health managers around the country will be ordered to implement the changes, letting staff go and beginning the recruitment process.

Certain health staff are excluded from the government moratorium including hospital consultants and therapists as well as social workers.

In a joint statement, SIPTU and the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) said they had received assurances at a meeting with the HSE yesterday that there would be no compulsory redundancies for permanent employees or temporary staff with more than 12 months' service.

They conceded the downside "is the mechanism proposed to pay for the new posts" but added that they had been promised local consultation in advance of the termination of any such contracts. Contracts would not end unless a replacement from within existing staff can be agreed.

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INO Deputy General Secretary, David Hughes, said: "There are currently 600 beds closed across our hospitals nationwide. Additionally, six theatres are closed and the impact of these closures has manifested itself in a 36pc increase in the number of patients waiting in A&E departments in the eastern area compared with the same month last year.

"Nationwide, the numbers of patients waiting on trolleys in A&E departments has risen by 29pc. Unfortunately, the new developments will have no impact at all on this deteriorating situation and this needs to be addressed urgently."

Matt Merrigan, SIPTU's National Health Official, warned that "many of the short- term temporary staff are filling critical roles in healthcare support and catering functions which simply cannot be dispensed with".

Unions said there are up to 1,200 staff on contracts of less than a year but the HSE was unable to furnish details regarding their location at yesterday's meeting.

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