One staff nurse in the HSE earned over €144,000 last year, one of four nurses to earn over €140,000.
According to figures released by the HSE in response to a freedom of information request, 70 nurses last year earned over €100,000.
The top-earning nurse was a mental health nurse working in the HSE East Coast area, with two of the other three earning over €140,000 also working in mental health.
The amounts would have been boosted by unspecified overtime payments and the figures confirm that 19 of the top 25 earning nurses work in mental health.
The information released also shows that one nurse received €82,258 in overtime, while two other nurses received in excess of €70,000.
The HSE confirmed that five received payments of between €60,001 and €70,000; 12 received overtime payments between €50,001 and €60,000; 22 received overtime payments between €40,001 and €50,000 and 33 received overtime payments between €30,001 and €40,000.
Revealing the number of nurses in each pay band above €30,000, the executive confirmed that 21% of the 22,293 HSE nurses received over €60,000 last year — including amounts earned through overtime.
Meanwhile, 108 nurses received between €90,001 and €100,000, with 351 getting €80,001 to €90,000 and an additional 834 in receipt of gross pay between €70,001 and €80,000.
A total of 3,364 nurses received €60,001 to €70,000, with 33% or 7,478 on nurses surveyed receiving between €50,001 and €60,000.
The figures further show that 27%, or 6,064, nurses were in receipt of pay between €40,001 and €50,000, with €4,026 or 18% in receipt of pay between €30,001 and €40,000.
General secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association, Des Kavanagh, said yesterday: “In order to receive the high overtime amounts, you would have to work virtually all of the time available.”
He said there was currently very little overtime available. He said: “There is no overtime now in the Mid-West or the West.
“The existence of those payments for 2012 is a surprise to me.”
Mr Kavanagh said the association had achieved significant improvements in nurses’ pay over the past 15 years.
“Psychiatric nurses are predominantly older and are at the top of their pay scales.”
He said the pay for nurses with third-level qualifications compares unfavourably to other health workers with similar qualifications. He said: “Nurses are one of the lowest-paid grades in that area.”
Mr Kavanagh said that it had been the association’s position for many years that the HSE should get rid of overtime and give the hours to new graduates.
“The HSE has abolished overtime in many areas, but as a result wards are being left very short staffed.”
The long-serving Psychiatric Nurses Association senior official said that the Croke Park II proposals to reduce frontline staff pay “are appalling”: “The plan was to reduce nurses’ pay by 11.1%.”
*Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation general secretary Liam Doran says his members are willing to work towards improved ‘efficiencies’ which will yield payroll savings but that further income reductions are “simply not realistic”.
Mr Doran made the statement in a circular to members ahead of today’s meeting between senior representatives of the Inmo and Labour Relations Commission chief executive Kieran Mulvey.
Mr Mulvey has been tasked by the Government with establishing whether there is scope for an agreement with unions which would yield €300m in savings this year and €1bn by 2015 from the public service pay bill.
Mr Doran said: “We can certainly work towards improved efficiencies, which will have payroll savings, but further income reductions are simply not realistic.”
He was also critical of the Government’s stance.
“Regrettably, despite the very strong rejection of the flawed proposals to extend the Croke Park Agreement, the Government continues to threaten to impose cuts in its public statements,” he said. “It is looking increasingly likely, particularly following the announcement of the teacher unions and other public service unions, that any such provocative action will inevitably create potential for a public sector wide dispute.”
— Stephen Rogers
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