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National Service Plan

HSE struggles to recruit public-health doctors, as it launches 2021 spending plan

Over half of the HSE’s boosted budget will go towards non-Covid-19 measures.

THE HSE IS struggling to recruit public-health doctors, despite launching a recruitment campaign over four months ago.

A “significant” recruitment campaign forms a core part of how the HSE is going to spend €20 billion allocated to it for this year, HSE chief Paul Reid said. Hiring public health experts and filling public health roles form a part of this.

The HSE launched a recruitment campaign in October to recruit over 250 people into public-health roles. 

Prior to the pandemic, there were 250 public health workers; people were redeployed from other departments during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and into early summer, and it doubled to over 500.

There are currently 440 public health staff, due to redeployment and extra supports needed elsewhere. 

HSE chief Paul Reid said that last year, there was a net increase of 208 consultants recruited, with plans to recruit 300 more this year.

The recruitment of more staff forms part of the HSE’s National Service Plan for 2021, launched today – an insight into how it plans to spend its budget and improve the health service. 

“The specific question around public-health doctors, is very challenging one,” Reid said today.

“Public health doctors are proving a real issue. We’re advertising on international journals and still having difficulty recruiting at the moment.”

A thousands applications have been received for roles, and 480 people have been interviewed. 

“We are having some success in public health, but not at the senior, clinical and doctor level to the extent that we need.”

The National Service Plan for the HSE details how it will spend the €20.623 billion allocated to it for 2021. This is an increase of €3.5 billion, or 21% on the 2020 National Service Plan.

Some €1.68bn is for Covid-19 spending, while the remaining €1.8bn extra represents an underlying increase of 10.6% in health spending compared to last year, well ahead of the average annual increase of 7.3% received across the years 2016-2020.

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