In a time of very limited recruitment opportunities in the public service, up to 1,000 two-year contracts are being made available to graduate nurses and midwives in our health services under the Graduate Nurse/Midwifery Programme. In addition to giving employment opportunities, a major objective of the Nurse Graduate scheme is to put in place more cost-effective service delivery arrangements, having regard to the high rates of expenditure on agency staffing and overtime.
Under the Haddington Road Agreement it was agreed that participants will be paid 85% of the first point of the new entrant scale in the first year and 90% in the second. Alongside these valuable employment opportunities, those who take up offers will also be able to avail of supported further professional development. The scheme will support the retention of graduate nurses and midwives within the Irish health system and enable them to gain valuable work experience and development opportunities post-graduation. Participants will have access to a variety of care settings while gaining clinical experience. Under the Programme, by the end of April 2014 the recruitment of almost 500 graduate nurses was completed.
Subject to overall Government policy recruitment of staff is, under the Health Acts, a matter for the HSE. I have therefore, referred this question to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.