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IMO ‘appalled’ by recruitment freeze

By Reporter - 13th Oct 2023

The IMO has said it is “shocked and appalled” at reported HSE plans to implement a recruitment freeze among a wide range of healthcare staff, including NCHDs.

Following Budget 202, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced the recruitment freeze in the HSE would be expanded due to financial restrictions.

It has been reported that no new staff will be recruited next year except where prior commitments have been made.

The memo states plans to recruit an additional 7,000 staff will not proceed.

While consultants, and GP trainees, among some others professions, have been exempted from the freeze, it does apply to NCHDs, except where a contractual obligation already exists or the NCHD in an approved postgraduate training programme.

The details were contained in a memo by HSE Chief Executive Mr Bernard Gloster.

Speaking today (13 October), Dr Rachel McNamara, Chair of the IMO NCHD committee, said: “This recruitment freeze flies in the face of safe staffing levels. It will add to the chaos in a system which already does not have enough doctors to deliver safe patient care, where many teams across the country are not fully staffed and where NCHDs are still working illegal and unsafe hours.”

“It is astounding that this decision could be made at this point in time. Even in the depths of austerity there was no recruitment freeze on medical professionals as it was recognised that delivery of services had to be prioritised. ”

 Dr John Cannon, President of the IMO, said: “NCHDs across all specialties are already working hours that are in excess of legal working hour legislation, and are burnt out working in a system that is completely unfit for purpose. It is little wonder that so many of our doctors simply choose to emigrate to systems that recognise their worth. 

“The system requires more, not fewer doctors, just to meet service demand. The additional NCHDs that were recruited this year were the minimum required to deliver those services and the HSE acknowledged to the IMO that a further 800 posts were required so that working hours could be reduced in line with the NCHD Agreement reached between the HSE and the IMO in December 2022. They are now quite simply abandoning their own legal obligations as an employer.”

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