The HSE’s bid to cut costs has seen it fill 172 JobBridge intern posts in just 12 months.
Official figures show the situation, which underlines the fact that graduate nurses are not the only workers forced to accept significantly reduced pay, is taking place across the health service.
Documents obtained by trade newspaper The Medical Independent confirm that, of the 200 JobBridge positions advertised by the HSE last year, 172 have been filled — the equivalent of one every two days.
While an exact breakdown is not available, the positions are spread across the system, and include those for solicitors, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, and medical physicists.
In 2013, the HSE announced that 48 intern posts — which could be held for six to nine months and allow the holder to receive €50 extra a week on top of social welfare payments — would be made available in each of its four regions.
A further eight positions were to be used to fill corporate services gaps.
Of these roles, 172 have been filled, including 48 in the HSE West, 18 in Dublin Mid-Leinster, 18 in the South, and eight in corporate services.
A further 80 posts were filled last year in the Dublin North East area, comprising of the 48 initial positions and a further 32 from 2012.
Since the HSE started using the JobBridge scheme in 2011, it has advertised for 390 posts, with the levels increasing year-on-year from 87 in 2011 to 103 in 2012 and 200 in 2013.
The Department of Health, HSE, and other Government departments using the scheme have repeatedly described it as a vital tool to help people enter the workforce since it was introduced more than three years ago.
Health service officials believe the scheme is the best way to overcome the system’s recruitment embargo problems.
However, Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy and other opponents of the policy have labelled it “ScamBridge” and insist the scheme takes advantage of new graduates and people trying to find work.
Official Department of Social Protection figures from last autumn show 59% of people who take up a JobBridge role drop-out before the programme is completed. Of those who remain, just one in three find full-time employment with the same organisation when the position is over, while only 24% end up with a job.
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