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HSE could lose 6,000 staff after bloodbath Budget

The Budget in December could bring €1bn in healthcare cuts – and mean enormous redundancies at the HSE.

Image: Waldo Jaquith via Flickr

THE HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE may be forced to make up to 6,000 staff redundant in an extreme cost-cutting drive when this year’s Budget cuts its funding for 2011 by up to €1bn, it is reported this morning.

The Sunday Tribune reports that each of the four regional HSE operations – West, South, Dublin-North East and Dublin Mid-Leinster – will have to cut somewhere between 900 and 1300 jobs each, with the total overall figure reaching into the thousands, with overall consolidation and further rationalisation likely to push the figure up to 6,000.

The newspapers adds that while the first redundancies will come through natural wastage – where retiring staff are not replaced – there will be some degree of compulsory cutbacks if the targets for job losses aren’t achieved more organically.

The Department of Finance is thought to be unlikely to support a voluntary redundancies package because of the high ‘golden handshake’ redundancy payments customarily awarded to people who voluntarily leave work.

Staff will also be forced to work longer and more flexible hours to cover the workload – a practice will that inevitably provoke complaint among the Irish Nurses Organisation and Irish Medical Organisation who believe their staff are already overworked.

The cuts will come as part of an enormous package of public sector rationalisation, with up to 30,000 public likely to have to be sacrificed over the next four years as the government seeks to pull together €15bn of spending cutbacks over the four years to come.

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Health minister Mary Harney earlier this week refused to be drawn on how much the health budget would likely be cut by in December’s budget – but admitted that they were destined to exceed the €600m earlier in the year, with €1bn as an upper limit.

Plans on how the Department of Finance hope to implement such cuts over the years to 2014 are due for publication next month.

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Gavan Reilly

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