Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Ceisteanna (99)

Martin Heydon


99. Deputy Martin Heydon asked the Minister for Health the status of work to deal with issues on the recruitment and retention of nurses; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5388/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As Minister for Health, the recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives has been a consistent priority for me. Challenges exist around recruitment and retention of these professions, against a backdrop of a shortage at a global level. However, despite these challenges, the data shows that the HSE has managed to increase the number of nurses and midwives employed. A total of 867 WTEs, including student nurses, were recruited by the HSE in 2018.

I do believe that the recent pay proposals put forward were a positive step towards making the public health service a more attractive place to work for nurses and midwives. Firstly, the Public Service Pay Commission recommended 20% increases to the Specialist Qualification and Location Allowances for nurses. They are also to be extended to maternity services. In addition, the Commission recommended that eligibility requirements for Senior Staff Nurse or Midwife be reduced from 20 to 17 years.

The Government proposals made to address the issue of New Entrant pay will also benefit approximately 10,000 nurses to the value of around €3,000 each.

On foot of the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA), Government is making very considerable resources available to increase public service pay, including in respect of nurses. This is on the basis that this agreement is honoured in full by all of the parties involved. As has been already pointed out in recent days. industrial action and seeking a cost increasing pay claim are both prohibited under the PSSA. However, I continue to believe that a solution can be found. I would urge the parties to come together in the intervening period before next Tuesday, to see if there is a way forward.