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Recruitment and overtime ban not the way to achieve savings in the health service – O’Reilly

8 April, 2019 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this morning, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that a recruitment and overtime ban is a ridiculous response from a Minister for Health who clearly doesn’t know how to achieve savings or efficiencies in the HSE.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“No one is claiming that there is not a need to have sensible and controlled budgets in the health service, as well as implementing sensible structural changes and the rolling out of cost saving measures, but to regress to the point where you freeze recruitment and ban overtime is quite frankly idiotic.

“There are areas across the health service where money is being haemorrhaged, be it the spending of over €300 million per year on expensive and temporary agency staff, the failure to move care into the community and away from acute hospitals, the failure to rollout proper IT infrastructure, or the failure to move to biosimilar medicines to name but a few.

“However, the default position of the Minister to impose possible recruitment and overtime bans for hospital groups is short sighted in the extreme.

“The decision to suspend recruitment in the HSE in 2007 has been the root of a lot of the staffing problems in the health service currently, so it baffles me that the Minister would go down this road again, even for a three-month period.  Penalising hospitals for spending on healthcare, while at the same time failing to invest adequately in primary care, is unfair and unsustainable.

“Furthermore, to announce to Irish medical and healthcare professionals who are living abroad and may be thinking of returning home that the health service is suspending recruitment is ridiculous.

“However, it is an overtime ban which will cause significant damage to the health service. Due to staffing problems as a result of the recruitment and retention crisis, the health service can only function because nurses, doctors, radiologists, physiotherapists, and others work overtime.

“Often, they do not want to work this overtime, but they do it because they have to out of a duty to their patients.

“This overtime will still have to be worked in order to ensure there is adequate staffing levels to provide patient safety and essential services – the Minister must explain if staff who have to work overtime because they cannot leave patients or wards will be paid for that overtime.

“There are many areas where savings can be made and where radical changes need to be made to the health service, indeed many of them are contained within Sláintecare, but suspending recruitment for medical and healthcare professionals and banning overtime is not the way to achieve savings or to reduce waste in the HSE.” 

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