A “large decrease” in nursing and midwifery staff in September last year was queried by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) at the October meeting of the health budget oversight group. However, a HSE spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) that the number of staff in this category has increased overall during 2021.
According to minutes, DPER “noted a large decrease in nursing midwifery WTEs (whole-time equivalents) and queried whether the revised staffing target would be met”.
The HSE said at the meeting that it “was not proposing to make any revisions at this stage” to targets, stated the minutes.
September 2021 was the first month in which recruitment targets failed to be achieved, the HSE said at the time.
A HSE spokesperson told MI that the data under discussion at the meeting referred to the September 2021 health service personnel census figures for nursing and midwifery, which showed a decrease in nursing and midwifery WTEs of 154.
“This decrease was noted to be likely attributable to the factors related to the movement of graduating nursing and midwifery internship students to staff nurse and staff midwife, and seasonal factors,” the spokesperson told MI.
The spokesperson said the overall figures for 2021 for nursing and midwifery up to November showed an increase of 1,385 WTE in this staff category.
“The HSE has acknowledged that in 2021 due to the impacts of the third Covid-19 surge, and the criminal cyberattack alongside the additional requirement to deliver a national vaccination programme, that these collectively have impacted on the HSE’s overall recruitment plans,” said the spokesperson.
“Notwithstanding this, the HSE has since December 2019, taking account of the Covid-19 period, added a further 11,447 WTEs equating to a 9.6 per cent increase in direct employment levels.”