Wednesday, 29 April 2009
Department of Health and Children
Question 142: To ask the Minister for Health and Children if, regarding representations made to her on 9 April 2009 by An Bord Altranais which outlined the reason she should grant approval to the Board to manage staff numbers within an overall employment ceiling of 47, causing no added financial burden on public finances, she will approve the request; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16889/09]
An Bord Altranais (The Nursing Board), which was established under the Nurses Act, 1985, is the statutory regulatory body for nurses and midwives. The Board consists of 29 members, 17 of whom are elected by nurses and 12 appointed by the Minister, 2 of whom are representatives of the Department of Health and Children.
Under the Act the Minister has a range of functions in relation to the Board one of which, Section 17(1), relates to the officers and servants of the Board "In addition to the Chief Executive Officer, there shall be appointed such and so many persons to be officers and servants of the Board, as the Board, with the consent of the Minister, from time to time determines."
The Act also provides that the Local Government (Superannuation) Act, 1956 applies to the Board and its officers and servants as if it were a local authority.
In addition to its statutory functions, the Board also administers the Nursing Careers Centre on behalf of the Health Services. For this purpose ongoing funding is provided by the HSE and the amount of this funding in 2007 was €600,000. While the bulk of the Board's income is generated by fees paid by nurses and midwives, it is a statutory body whose staff have access to a public service pension scheme. It is thus covered by the recent Government decision that, with effect from the 27 March 2009 to end 2010, no post in the public sector, however arising, may be filled by recruitment, promotion, or payment of an allowance for the performance of duties at a higher grade. The decision also applies to temporary appointments on a fixed-term basis and to the renewal of such contracts. Therefore, when vacancies arise each agency must reallocate or reorganise work or staff accordingly.
In the case of the health sector, any exceptions to this principle, which will arise in very limited circumstances only, require the prior sanction of the Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Finance.
I am advised that An Bord Altranais has an overall complement of 47 staff, 11 of whom are employed on fixed term/purpose contracts. The CEO of An Bord recently wrote to the Secretary General of my Department in this regard. My Department is currently examining the submission from An Bord Altranais and a response will be issued in the near future.