More than a month into a high-profile campaign to attract 500 nurses back to Ireland, just 10 had joined the health service.
The campaign, launched by the Health Service Executive on July 23, offered considerable incentives to midwives and nurses to return to work here.
Incentives included a relocation package of up to €1,500 tax-free removal/relocation expenses, funded post graduate education and incremental credit for experience gained outside Ireland.
Those taking up the offer of employment would also benefit from a permanent contract of employment, “generous annual and public holiday leave entitlements” and a “competitive salary” according to the HSE.
Yet despite these inducements, the HSE confirmed that as of August 28 last, just 10 nurses had actually joined the service, which translates into 2% of the ultimate target recruitment figure of 500.
A HSE spokesperson said they were “awaiting final Garda clearance and references for a further 20 candidates who should commence in the next few weeks”.
The spokesperson said that 320 applications had been received and shortlisted for suitability, “of which 90 have been already been shortlisted and interviewed or are scheduled for interview over the next couple of weeks”.
Ian Tegerdine, interim national director of HR for the HSE said they were “pleased with the pilot so far and it looks like we are making some good progress towards our target”.
Cork University Hospital (CUH), which has blamed staffing shortages on its inability to open a 20-bed respiratory ward funded at a cost of €2.3 million by Munster cystic fibrosis (CF) charity Build4Life, was unable to say if it had benefited from any of the new recruits.
A spokesperson for the hospital said he was “unable to source the information on the number of nurses recruited at CUH.”
He added that CUH “has been holding interviews on a weekly basis since April in a bid to recruit more nursing staff”.
The opening of the fully-equipped respiratory ward, which contains dedicated beds for CF patients, is now running five months behind schedule.
The HSE’s national recruitment service was asked last June to prioritise its staffing by Junior Health Minister Kathleen Lynch.
Build4Life founder Joe Browne said the ward should have opened in March.
Mr Browne added that he has since been told by the HSE that the opening is pushed back to October “if not sooner, depending on recruitment”.
The ward was completed in January this year.
It had been expected it would officially open “within a month of completion” of construction.
Ms Lynch said in June that there were about 40 nurse vacancies at CUH.
In August the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) claimed the number of vacant posts was as high as 78.
The INMO said nurses in the affected wards were working longer shifts and not taking breaks to compensate.
These claims were refuted by the HSE.
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