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HSE sought out experienced physios for vacant position ... then pulled job due to recruitment freeze

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has warned that “patients are being put at extreme risk” over the ongoing freeze.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/Africa Studio

THE HSE SOUGHT to find experienced healthcare workers on panels interested in new positions before cancelling the jobs due to the ongoing recruitment freeze affecting areas of the health service.

The move comes as people who’ve been offered jobs within the health service have found they’ve been unable to begin their new roles due to the “controls” put in place on posts by the HSE.

This week, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said “the recruitment ban… has got to go” and warned that patients were being put at risk due to the block in certain positions. 

Having originally said that the block on certain jobs would persist until June, a HSE spokesperson told TheJournal.ie last week that it would now remain for an indeterminate amount of time but would be “as short a period as necessary”.

Earlier this year, members on a panel for physiotherapy positions were informed of a senior physiotherapist position in the west of Ireland. Interested parties were asked to express their interest with a view to taking up the job.

However, this week, panellists were told via email that the job was now no longer available.

hbs recruit Contents of the email sent out by HSE recruitment team

In that email, seen by TheJournal.ie, a member of the HSE’s recruitment team said: “Under recent paybill restrictions a further sanction is required from the relevant national director to proceed with vacant posts.

Unfortunately, we have not received sanction to proceed with the above post at this time and therefore this expression of interest has been cancelled. 
I regret the inconvenience this may cause you but these are circumstances outside the control of HBS (Health Business Services) Recruit. 

It is understood that individuals on this panel may have been on it for a number of years with the panel due to expire at the end of the year. 

If the hold on positions such as this one remains, then people may miss out entirely on having the chance to secure a new job as they will no longer be on the panel. 

It’s also understood that a number of expressions of interest in this area have been cancelled in the past week. 

‘No end in sight’

The freeze is affecting prospective candidates in a variety of areas, such as physiotherapists, speech and language therapists and clerical workers.

One woman told TheJournal.ie that she had relocated from England after being offered a new role with the HSE. 

“I was offered a HSE role during the freeze and have just been told that I can’t start as planned as there is no end in sight,” she said.

I think that they were hoping for the freeze to be over so carried on with recruitment. I wonder how much extra they would have saved if they had frozen the whole process, no ads, no HR time.

According to the INMO, unfilled posts which are on hold because of the recruitment freeze include 103 staff midwife roles (plus over 50 temporary posts), at least 325 permanent staff nurse roles (plus over 120 staff nurse roles), and unfilled roles in palliative care, emergency departments, care of the elderly and theatre.

INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Patients are being put at extreme risk, with essential services being taken from the most vulnerable. Before the ban, we had understaffing and overcrowding. Refusing to fill vacant posts is adding fuel to the flames.

Our members went on strike earlier this year because of understaffing. The HSE seems determined to make the problem even worse. These figures make a mockery of the claim that frontline services are being protected.

She also said this approach to cost cutting ends up actually driving up costs as it increases the reliance on “expensive agency staff”. 

The HSE hasn’t referred to the current embargo on posts as a recruitment freeze, instead referring to them as “controls”. 

It said: “The purpose of these controls is to ensure that the HSE is demonstrating that it is living within the available resources provided to it by government. This does mean that in some Hospital Groups and CHO’s non-critical replacement posts will be paused.

There is ongoing capacity to recruit new funded posts and also to replace critical clinical posts. These controls will remain in place pending further assurance of the capacity to manage within budget as set out in the National Service Plan 2019.

“On receipt and acceptance of balanced plans from Hospital Groups and CHO’s these additional controls can be reviewed and removed where appropriate.”

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Sean Murray

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