02/11/2010

5,000 HSE Staff To Go

The Minister for Health Mary Harney has announced that some 5,000 HSE jobs will go under a voluntary retirement scheme.

Under the proposal, the Health Service Executive will seek 5,000 staff to leave voluntarily by the end of the year, while those willing are being asked to apply for the scheme by 19 November.

According to reports this morning, clerical and support staff will get pay-offs averaging €80,000 each, with senior managers walking away with a lump sum of €200,000, plus pensions.

Early retirement will be offered to staff over 50 years of age, while voluntary redundancy will be open to staff up to the age of 60. Those who leave will not be replaced while the plan is estimated to save the HSE some €200m a year.

However, this morning, worker's union's have reacted skeptically, saying with major union SIPTU stating it will not accept contract or agency workers being employed to replace the staff.

Responding to the plan, Acting Head of SIPTU’s Health Division Paul Bell said the Uniion would not accept any “backfilling” of the service with contract workers.

“There is no provision for the hole that will be left in the service when these people have departed," Mr Bell said.

"SIPTU will not accept the backfilling of the service by contract or agency staff. These cuts are not in breach of the Croke Park Agreement as they are voluntary but they are dictated solely by budgetary considerations rather than the needs of patients and those who depend on a properly functioning health service,” he added.

IMPACT said it would challenge the terms of the package being offered and will probably refer the issue to a third-party.

Also responding to the announcement, Fine Gael Health Spokesperson Dr James Reilly said the scheme was under consideration two years ago and is "two years too late".

Speaking this morning, Dr Reilly said: “Now we have a panicked Government causing chaos in the health service as workers are left with less than three weeks to decide on their future and that of their families, with Christmas fast approaching.

“Fine Gael's FairCare policy goes much further. Our plan to dismantle the HSE will reduce costs, protecting front-line services and offering a much fairer health service.”

(DW)

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