Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Department of Health
Health Service Staff
Robert Dowds (Dublin Mid West, Labour)
Question 660: To ask the Minister for Health the measures being put in place to ensure there are sufficient front-line health staff at a time when so many are retiring from the public health service. [7723/12]
James Reilly (Minister, Department of Health; Dublin North, Fine Gael)
The impact of staff reductions, and particularly those occurring before the end of the present “Grace Period”, together with reduced financial resources, represents a significant challenge for the health system in delivering services. The HSE’s National Service Plan 2012, which I recently approved, sets out what actions will be taken to address these challenges. The HSE is seeking to mitigate the impact of the retirements on frontline services by:
Using the provisions of the Public Service Agreement to bring about greater flexibilities in work practices and rosters, redeployment and other changes to achieve more efficient delivery of services.
Delivering greater productivity through the National Clinical Programmes to reduce average length of stay, improve day of admission surgery rates and increase the number of patients treated as day cases;
Some limited and targeted recruitment in priority areas to help limit the impact of retirements on frontline services.
To implement the National Service Plan, the HSE is finalising regional business plans, supported by detailed local planning, which will take account of the effect of the reduction in both staff numbers and budgets, as well as addressing the service areas identified for priority development under the National Service Plan. Briefings with staff, unions, public representatives and other stakeholders have already commenced and will continue over the coming weeks.
Detailed planning for retirements in the period to the end of February 2012 commenced in October last and has been intensified at regional and local service level as the numbers and locations of those leaving have become clearer. The focus of these plans is on maintaining essential frontline services such as emergency departments, intensive care and maternity services. The plans reflect the fact that the number of staff leaving varies from region to region and from service to service.