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'It's a breach of basic decency': Opposition demands end to recruitment freeze in HSE

Families have been left in limbo over the ongoing recruitment freeze in the HSE.

FF's Billy Kelleher and SF's Louise O'Reilly have raised concerns
FF's Billy Kelleher and SF's Louise O'Reilly have raised concerns
Image: Rollingnews.ie

OPPOSITION TDS HAVE said that the recruitment freeze in the HSE is “short sighted” and “disgraceful”.

Implemented last month, the freeze has seen many people who were offered jobs now being told that the positions are no longer available.

In some cases, individuals left their existing employment in the belief that they’d be starting their new job within the HSE on the start date they were given. It wasn’t until after the matter was first reported in the media that they were told this wouldn’t be the case. 

This week, TheJournal.ie has spoken to people that are now left unsure how they’ll be able to pay their mortgage or look after their children as they have no indication when they’ll actually be able to start their new job with the HSE.

In outlining to senior colleagues the reasoning behind the freeze, HSE chief operations officer Liam Woods said recruitment had been suspended for the next three months due to the “financial pressures in the system” from recruitment last year, and the “need to live within the resources provided to the HSE”.

Woods said that it was hoped that this “additional control” will be in effect “for as short a period as necessary”. 

In one case, a woman who had just secured a nursing position was told by the HR unit at the hospital that there is no guarantee that she’ll be able to take up her position at any time in the near future. 

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Fianna Fáil TD and European election hopeful Billy Kelleher said the situation has to end.

“It’s outrageous that you’ve a blunt policy on recruitment that effectively discommodes people’s lives in terms of making an application for a job, them awarding that vacancy, and them going about changing where they live, maybe sending their kids to a different school, etc, to find out that the job is no longer available is completely unacceptable,” he said. 

Kelleher added that it’s a “breach of basic decency”, and said the HSE had an obligation when advertising a job to follow through on it. 

He added: “These blunt arbitrary measures are having an impact on the broader health services in terms of the delivery of care and a shortage of healthcare professionals. It’s disgraceful.”

Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly said that the recruitment freeze is having a “devastating effect” on staff and patients and urged Minister Simon Harris to intervene. 

“We must also ask how the ban pertains to existing healthcare and medical staff or those considering returning home to work in the health service,” she said. “I can imagine they are disillusioned and angry over this decision and how the health service is being run.

There are numerous areas where savings can be made in the health service, but punishing staff is not the answer.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

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Sean Murray

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