Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Questions (633, 638)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

633. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which agency nursing staff continue to be replaced by part-time, temporary or whole-time staff throughout the public health sector; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30827/13]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

638. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which graduate nurses are likely to be offered positions over the next two years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30832/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 633 and 638 together.

Government policy requires that by the end of 2013 the health service achieves a workforce of 98,955 wholetime equivalents (WTEs), a gross reduction of almost 4,000 WTE in the current year. Given the requirement on the HSE to reduce numbers employed and to achieve savings of over €700m this year, there is very limited scope to offer new nursing posts, part-time, temporary or full-time, at present.

The Public Service Stability Agreement 2013-2016 (The Haddington Road Agreement) contains a number of provisions that will deliver additional hours and which will allow the HSE to reduce the use of agency staff. Among these provisions are an increase in the working week of nurses and midwives to 39 hours per week and the Graduate Nurse Placement Initiative.

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform approved the Graduate Nurse Placement Initiative on the basis that participants would not be counted in health service staff numbers and that it would contribute to savings on unsustainable levels of agency and overtime expenditure. This Initiative will enable the health services to offer 1,000 graduate nurses with positions for two years. It will support the retention of recently qualified graduate nurses and midwives within the Irish health system and enable them to gain valuable work experience and development opportunities post-graduation, at a time when job opportunities in the public service are very limited.