Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Dáil Éireann Debate
20. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health if he has prepared an impact analysis on the effects of reductions in staffing levels in February; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1194/12]
41. Deputy David Stanton asked the Minister for Health the way in which the staffing embargo and high level of retirements is impacting on the delivery of health services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1279/12]
992. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the degree to which he has examined the impact of the recruitment embargo on the staffing levels throughout the health service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1607/12]
The most recent information available from the HSE indicates that over the period September 2011 to end February 2012 some 3,200 health service staff, equating in wholetime equivalent terms to approximately 2,700 employees will have retired. These retirements will contribute significantly to the achievement of the staffing reductions required in the health sector in 2012, in line with the Government’s policy of reducing public service employment numbers on a phased basis to 282,500 by 2015.
The purpose of the three-month minimum notice period for retirement introduced for the public service in July 2011 was to allow management to have advance knowledge of the number of staff planning to retire in a particular service/area and to plan accordingly. In September last, I asked the HSE to carry out an assessment of the likely impact of retirements in the period to the end of February, based on the three months’ notice period, queries to superannuation departments and the age profile of staff. I also requested the Executive to identify particular pressure points as a priority and to develop appropriate measures to deal with significant departures in a given service or area. As retirement applications have been received, the HSE has analysed the data on an ongoing basis to establish the emerging position as to the distribution of posts according to staff category and region.
The Executive, in preparing the National Service Plan 2012, has taken into account the expected reductions in staff numbers, and discussions between my Department and the HSE are under way at present, with a view to ensuring that the Plan provides for all possible steps to minimise the effect on services. These include pursuing to the maximum the flexibility and reform agenda provided for in the Public Service Agreement. In particular, it is essential that we bring about change in relation to rostering — especially of nursing and medical staff — skill-mix, a reduction in the use of agency staff, and the continued implementation of the HSE’s clinical programmes.
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