HSE chief calls for ‘voluntary redundancy scheme’

THE head of human resources in the HSE has called for managers to take part in a new “voluntary redundancy scheme” to reduce the number of senior officials employed in the system.

National director Sean McGrath, who oversees a workforce in excess of 110,000 people, said over the past two years, the HSE has attempted to drastically reduce the number of senior officials and administrators by not replacing those who retire.

However, despite the plan being put in place to increase the amount of money being spent on frontline services and patient care, he told www.irishhealth.com that the policy has failed to cut management numbers sufficiently.

“I believe we can reduce our number of managers in the system, absolutely. We are currently not replacing those who leave through natural wastage.

“To speed up the numbers who want to leave we need a voluntary severance scheme pitched at a particular level that asks ‘do we need this management cohort, this administration cohort?’,” he said.

While approximately 2,000 to 3,000 staff retire from or leave their HSE positions every year, the majority of these are in non-management positions.

Due to the ongoing recruitment moratorium, Mr McGrath said it has in the past been “difficult” to refill these subsequently empty frontline posts.

“If you take it that 40% of the cohort that leave every year would be nurses, that would obviously be a significant loss in the context of a moratorium.

“For example, if a nurse working in an intensive care unit left, that post usually could not be replaced under the moratorium.

“We felt after it was introduced that we needed a bit more flexibility, in terms of allowing for greater involvement at local level for the decisions required and this has now happened.

“Previously, if you needed a nurse or some other clinical support on the frontline, everything had to go through the departments of health and finance,” he said.

While the senior HSE official said frontline posts can now be refilled “once a service case is made”, he added that the moratorium is still affecting patient services.

“We have taken 1,500 out of the system last year and this year and the target is 6,000 by 2012.

“Obviously anytime you downsize an organisation, taking 6,000 people out of the system while trying to maintain, if not increase, service levels is going to be a challenge.

“If you have four nurses doing a job today and then one of them retires or leaves and it takes time or you are looking to redeploy, you just can’t go out and recruit somebody verbatim as you did before,” he said.


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