Wednesday, 18 January 2017
Department of Health
Nursing Staff Recruitment
167. To ask the Minister for Health the actions he is taking to address the shortage of nursing staff in the short, medium and long term; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2043/17]
As you know, my Department and the HSE are already engaged in discussions with the INMO on the issue of recruitment and retention, these talks are due to resume next week. In addition to this a number of specific measures have also been taken in relation to pay that will support the recruitment and retention of Irish nursing and midwifery graduates. Measures to date include additional pay in return for taking on some duties from doctors and an increase in the rate of pay for the student nursing placement to 70% of the first point of the staff nurse pay scale. In the last quarter of 2016 the Government approved restoration of incremental credit for 2011 to 2015 graduate nurses in respect of the 36 week clinical placement undertaken by fourth year student nurses in the context of the 2017 Estimates. All nurses and midwives are now eligible for incremental credit for the 36 week placement. There has been an increase of 1,702 nurses employed in the public health service (34,093 to 35,795) from November 2013 to November 2016.
Yesterday, the Government announced plans to increase those on annualised salaries by €1,000 for the period April to August 2017 for those on salaries up to €65,000 to address anomalies arising from the Labour Court Recommendations in respect of the Garda Associations. A benefit of this decision is that it will make jobs in nursing more attractive.
There are many initiatives currently under way to improve staffing levels throughout the country, the HSE is offering permanent posts to 2016 degree programme graduates, and full time permanent contracts to those in temporary posts. The HSE is also focused on converting agency staffing to permanent posts, while also accepting that there is still the need to have some element of agency. The HSE's National Recruitment Service is actively operating rolling nursing recruitment campaigns. The campaigns encompass General, Mental Health, Intellectual Disability and Registered Children's Nurses, and also Midwives. In addition, a relocation package of up to €1,500 continues to be available to nurses who return from overseas. The HSE ran a three-day open recruitment event over the Christmas holiday period in Dr Steevens’ Hospital for nurses and midwives from all disciplines who are interested in working in the Irish Public Health Service. 220 attended the event. 115 nursing and midwifery candidates were deemed successful and panelled following interview.
In September 2016 the HSE set up a Project Group to review nursing workforce planning, recruitment and retention. The main objectives of this Project Group include identifying current recruitment black spots in a coordinated way and developing measures to incentivise and attract nurses to these essential posts.
Given recognised difficulties in filling psychiatric nursing vacancies, an additional 60 undergraduate places were put in place last autumn with a further 70 additional places to be provided this year.