A major objective of this scheme was to put in place more cost-effective service delivery arrangements, having regard to the high rates of expenditure on agency staffing and overtime. The scheme also enables recently-qualified nurses and midwives to gain a variety of front-line service experience and to further develop specific professional skills. As the Deputy will be aware, the nursing unions were strongly opposed to the scheme and as a result the number of applications to date has been limited. To date nine applicants have been assigned to work locations and have taken up their posts. A further sixty applicants have been assigned to locations but have yet to take up duty.
Under the Haddington Road Agreement, which has now been accepted by the nursing unions, it has been agreed that revised salary rates will be payable to participants in this scheme. In this context the HSE will shortly be proceeding to invite further applications and to facilitate qualified applicants with offers of appointment to posts in the part of the country for which they have expressed a preference. Recruitment will continue during 2013, with a particular focus on nurses who will be graduating next autumn.