Union slams JobBridge-style nurse proposal

Plans to employ graduate nurses in hospitals under a JobBridge-style scheme to cut costs are being considered by the Government.

Health Minister James Reilly revealed the move at the Dáil Public Accounts Committee, with officials later confirming it could be in place as early as 2014.

The move, which is being discussed by Dr Reilly and Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, has been suggested to help cut agency costs and increase hospital nurse numbers.

Dr Reilly’s chief spokes-person later confirmed this scheme will mirror the wider JobBridge programme championed by Government, and is “aimed” to be in place next year.

The wider scheme has sparked support and outrage in equal measure for the way it provides graduates with lengthy placements on lower pay than other workers.

Under Dr Reilly’s plan, new nursing graduates will form a “nursing bank” and “secure work by way of contract” with a “level of flexibility in deployment”, Dr Reilly’s chief spokesperson said. No pay levels have been decided.

However, the plan has provoked a furious reaction from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which said it would oppose the move.

Dr Reily said: “We’re in talks with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on a nursing bank, sort of a JobBridge programme.

“Agency nurses are very fine people, but the reality is you can’t train them up in a particular speciality.”

A Department of Health spokesman said that while the policy was “not being considered for Budget 2013” it would be “developed in discussions and negotiations next year”. He said it was “not possible at this stage” to clarify how much money could be saved or how many nursing posts the policy could create.

It is understood any discussion of such a move has taken place at senior levels within both departments, with few officials made aware of the potential move before yesterday.

The scheme could be used to tackle runaway [url=http://www.irishexaminer.com/archives/2012/1127/world/hse-falls-short-of-costs-target-for-agency-staff-215203.html] agency nurse cost, help address staffing problems, and reduce the number of nursing graduates emigrating.

Liam Doran, INMO’s secretary general, said: “We will not be agreeing to any such proposal. We have had informal talks with the minister about employing graduates, but that is based on paying them the same amount as other colleagues.

“JobBridge was never discussed, and we are emphatic that if and when this happens the Department will be required to pay these nurses the full amount.”

Meanwhile, Dr Reilly and the HSE has questioned an INMO study on nurse levels. The HSE said the comparison with the NHS in Britain — which has an average of six nurses more per ward — is unfair.

The minister said it was important to note the average nurse’s salary in Britain was €44,000 compared to €55,000 in Ireland. Mr Doran said this is “a misguided reply that suggests staffing is based on pay rates”.


More in this Section

Gardaí won’t be disciplined over false breath tests

Convicted garda resigns from force

Government back from brink - but FG parliamentary party told to prepare for vote in mid-January

Rehab to rebrand to reflect strategy


Breaking Stories

Solicitor from Cork facing trial accused of bringing cocaine into prison

Men who are convicted of manslaughter of women they know serve less time

Man challenging suspension from National Museum had ’an obsession with tall women with long legs’, court hears

Family of Seamus Ludlow lose legal bid for state inquiry into his murder by loyalist paramilitaries

Lifestyle

Having fled the Nazis, Elizabeth Friedlander created her own typeface before moving to Kinsale

On the double: Jennifer Zamparelli and balancing a hectic life and baby number two

Trim back for the festivities with these Christmas fitness tips

The 40-year-old charity that ensures no-one dies alone and poor

More From The Irish Examiner