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HSE receives 2,700 applications for career breaks - far more than expected

The HSE had to turn down the vast majority of applications for the three year break as the number of applications had expected to number in the hundreds.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

MORE THAN 2,700 people applied for recently-advertised career breaks within the HSE – far more than the several hundred applications which had been expected.

However the vast majority of applications had to be rejected in order to prevent major gaps in services from opening up.

The scheme was started in a bid to slash further costs in the health service, which has already cut more than 10,000 staff over the past four years and has had its budget reduced significantly.

Under the incentivised scheme, HSE employees could apply for a 3-year break from their job and receive up to €12,000 per year pro rata. The scheme was open to all staff and decisions on applications were made by line managers and senior regional management.

The majority of those who applied were frontline staff, and staff in the HSE said that services would not have been able to cope if all those who applied had been allowed to take the career break. Some staff around the country are still waiting to hear whether or not they have been granted the leave.

A senior HSE executive with knowledge of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the number of applications was indicative of pressures inside and outside of the health service.

“We had expected maybe 400 applications, so the volume was quite surprising. It probably reflects the economic situation – some people have kids in childcare and are paying big money, so it would take that burden away.”

“But it’s also reflective of the level of pressure people are under. It’s a very pressurised environment to work in day in and day out and morale is quite low.”

The high rejection rate left many employees disappointed.

One HSE employee commented on boards.ie that 89 out of 90 applications in his area had been rejected while another said that they were “devastated” at the outcome.

“As most staff are involved in the delivery of direct frontline services on that basis many of these applications have been refused,” the HSE said in a statement.

The Dublin-Mid Leinster region had the highest number of applications with 856 in total out of 2,730 altogether.

Region No of Applications
HSE DML Total 856
HSE DNE Total 434
HSE South Total 520
HSE West Total 509
National / Corporate Total 411
Grand Total 2730

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