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Staff hours decision will impact recruitment targets – HSE

By David Lynch - 19th Jul 2022


Restoration of pre-austerity working hours will have a “significant impact” on health service recruitment targets, an early review of the HSE National Service Plan 2022 (NSP) has found. 

In April, the Medical Independent reported that Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly had requested a first quarter review of the plan in light of recruitment difficulties. The NSP was published on 1 March with a target to recruit an additional 5,500-10,000 whole-time equivalent (WTE) staff this year. 

According to 1 June correspondence to the Minister from HSE Chair Mr Ciarán Devane, “the [first quarter] review recognises the additional challenges of the impact of the recent Government decision in relation to the reversal of the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA) as well as the impact and service implications of the response to people arriving in Ireland from Ukraine.” 

The review noted that the plan “was developed exclusive of Haddington Road or the Ukraine response impact”. 

The HRA hours reversal, which came into effect in July, was equivalent to the loss of a minimum of circa 3,800 WTEs across the HSE. “Not all WTEs will be replaced or indeed be replaceable, however, there will be a requirement to replace WTEs in critical patient services as a matter of priority to maintain safe patient care,” according to the review. 

“As a consequence, it also brings further complications to our efforts at resourcing and financial planning for 2022.” 

The review noted the “significant market supply challenges/unpredictable workforce supply”. 

As the global economy opened-up, “the [staff] turnover can be expected to increase in 2022. Some graduates from the last two years may choose to travel coupled with increased retirements, from those who delayed their retirement or increased their hours to assist the health services in its response to Covid.” 

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