Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Questions (48, 63, 396, 560)

Alan Kelly

Question:

48. Deputy Alan Kelly asked the Minister for Health the measures he is taking to ensure there will be an adequate supply of nurses in our health service in the coming years to meet demand. [30696/16]

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Mick Barry

Question:

63. Deputy Mick Barry asked the Minister for Health the way in which the budget announcement that 1,000 additional nurses will be recruited to the health care system will be achieved in the context that many graduate nurses are leaving the country citing pay and conditions. [30297/16]

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John Lahart

Question:

396. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Health the steps being taken to ensure that nursing graduates do not emigrate from Ireland following graduation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30247/16]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

560. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the extent to which sufficient nursing staff are readily available in line with requirements over the next three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30979/16]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 48, 63, 396 and 560 together.

Nursing and midwifery recruitment and retention is a priority for the health service. There are many initiatives currently underway to improve staffing levels throughout the country.

The HSE is offering permanent posts to 2016 degree programme graduates, and full time permanent contracts to those in temporary posts. The HSE is also focused on converting agency staffing to permanent posts. The HSE's National Recruitment Service is actively operating rolling nursing recruitment campaigns. The campaigns encompass General, Mental Health, Intellectual Disability and Registered Children's Nurses, and also Midwives. In addition, a relocation package of up to €1,500 is available to nurses who return from overseas.

There has been an increase of over 1,160 nurses employed in the public health service (34,375 to 35,538) from August 2014 to August 2016, numbers having fallen by almost 4,600 from 2007 to 2014. The total budget for the health service in 2017 is €14.6 billion, the highest ever health budget, and this will allow for the filling of an additional 1,000 nursing posts.

A number of specific measures have also been taken in relation to pay that will support the recruitment and retention of Irish nursing and midwifery graduates. Measures to date include the first stage of pay restoration under the Lansdowne Road Agreement, additional pay in return for taking on some duties from doctors and an increase in the rate of pay for the student nursing placement to 70% of the first point of the staff nurse pay scale.

In the past week the Government has approved restoration of incremental credit for all nurses in respect of the 36 week clinical placement undertaken by 4th year student nurses in the context of the 2017 Estimates. This decision means that all nurses and midwives will have incremental credit for the 36 week placement restored from 1 January 2017, restoration of the credit to 2016 and future graduates having been approved earlier this year. It is estimated that the inclusion of 2011 to 2015 graduates will benefit around 4,000 nurses who are currently working within the public health service and potentially another 3,000 who may wish to return to the public system in the future.