Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Questions (400)

Pat Breen

Question:

459 Deputy Pat Breen asked the Minister for Health and Children the effect the current embargo on the recruitment in the Health Service Executive is having on the hospital services in County Clare, particularly in frontline services; if there is increased pressure on staff; if there is are health and safety concerns; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38264/09]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health and Children)

In order to implement savings measures on public service numbers, the Government introduced a moratorium on recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade with effect from 27 March 2009 to end 2010. A HSE circular has issued which gives effect to the Government decision in the public health services and other specific aspects of the employment control framework for the health services.

The HSE will be focussing on the scope that exists within the health services for reorganising and restructuring of work in order to minimise the impact on essential service delivery. The redeployment and reassignment of existing staff will also support the reorientation of care from hospitals to the community and to facilitate the development of integrated care. It is seeking a high level of flexibility from staff and unions to achieve this. The Government decision has been modulated to ensure that key services are maintained in so far as possible in the health services, particularly in respect of children at risk, older people and persons with a disability.

In addition, the employment control framework specifically exempts certain front line grades in the health sector from the moratorium and it allows for a growth in the number of those posts within the overall approved employment ceiling (111,800 wtes) for the health sector. The framework also includes provision for the creation of 225 new development posts this year for cancer, mental health and disability services. In addition, special provisions apply in relation to certain specialist grades under the National Cancer Control Programme. The focus on these key grades is in line with existing Government policy on the prioritisation of certain development areas, for which significant funding has already been provided. The overall result will be to assist in the reorientation of health employment to services delivered in primary and community care.

As this is a service matter, it has been referred to the HSE for attention and direct reply to the Deputy.