The department employed over 200 more staff members than it had planned or budgeted for. Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Health Service

HSE managerial and admin staff begin industrial action

The staff not be working outside of their contracted hours or do any work relating to publishing the service’s statistics.

STAFF MEMBERS IN managerial and administrative posts are working-to-rule after the HSE introduced a complete recruitment freeze on Wednesday.

The staff not be working outside of their contracted hours, or do work related to publishing emergency department statistics, or the rate of delayed discharges in hospitals.

The decision to impose a recruitment freeze was taken by CEO Bernard Gloster after the department employed over 200 more staff members than it had planned or budgeted for this year.

Worries over the potential impact the overemployment could have towards threatening the recruitment of front-line staff such as nurses, midwives and doctors have grown in the Department of Health.

The action taken by the managerial and admin staff could also have consequences within the service as it enters its busy “winter surge” period.

A union representing the workers, Forsa, said they had no choice but to resume their industrial action yesterday due to the HSE’s decision to freeze all recruitment and replacement of staff. 

The inclusion not to replace staff members when required was highlighted as a one of the major factors that resulted in Forsa’s members choosing to take industrial action this year, Ashley Connolly told Newstalk this morning.

The department has said it is “deeply disappointing” that the union has chosen to take that industrial action, in what was decided in a secret ballot that an overwhelming majority of members (93%) voted in favour for earlier this year.

Department and HSE officials believe that the action will have an impact on patient care and believe it is “unwarranted”, given the category of staff is already overemployed.

Connolly said: “We equally share the concerns, in terms of the ‘runaway train’ that is the HSE’s budget, but when an organisation is spending over a billion euro on agency staff and over 500 million [euro] on external consultants, you do have to call into question the mismanagement (sic.) of the overall budget.”

The HSE received funding to employ an additional 1,400 admin and managerial staff members this year however, the category was overemployed to a total of 1,650 new staff members.

The bloating of staff members in this category is evident when compared to the number of frontline staff members recruited during this time.

The workforce of admin staff has increased by over 30% since December 2019, compared to 23% and 18% in doctors and nurses, respectively.

However, in a statement yesterday, Connolly said the targeting of the overemployed category is “unjust and will negatively impact on the provision of clinical services”.

She added that the category is not the cause of the HSE’s budget overspend and blames the “continued [use] of agency workers and private external consultants” in the service.

Yesterday, Tánaiste Micheál Martin said an offer was made to the workers’ union, but was not accepted. He urged all parties to get back around the table through the industrial relations mechanisms, stating that the department is will to re-engage.

Additional reporting from Christina Finn & Eimer McAuley

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