HSE pays pension recipients €92k a year to fill posts

The HSE is still paying recently retired workers on hefty pension packages as much as €92,442 a year to come back and fill vacant posts.

Latest figures obtained by trade newspaper the Medical Independent show that, despite a clampdown on the controversial policy, almost €750,000 was used to bring back retirees last year.

The €721,114 sum was used to pay for the return of 69 people to fill empty posts, ranging from doctors and nurses to administrative and transport personnel.

The highest payment was a €92,442 fee given to a retired consultant pathologist, while the lowest was just €123 to a mini-bus driver.

In total, 11 doctors were rehired, including a consultant radiologist, two consultant general physicians, and a consultant anaesthetist.

A histopathologist, an ophthalmologist, and palliative medicine physician were also asked to come back, while 22 retired public health nurses were rehired along with nine staff nurses.

Among the worst offending areas were the HSE Dublin North region, which brought back 32 former employees; and the HSE North West, which sought the help of 12 ex-workers.

While the rate is down significantly on the €3.3m spent in 2012 and €11.6m in 2011, when almost 700 ex-workers were rehired despite already receiving significant HSE pensions, it still jars considerably with the difficulties medical graduates have in finding work.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Organisation has repeatedly warned that its younger members are leaving the country almost immediately after graduating for better prospects in Britain, Australia, Canada, and the US — partially because of retirees being rehired.

The situation, which is repeated among young physiotherapists, was highlighted at a recent Students’ Union of Ireland Dáil protest and is also impacting on the work available for junior doctors.

Many of the problems are linked directly to the ongoing health service recruitment embargo, which is forcing down the amount of money facilities spend on hiring staff — resulting in short-term solutions being found among retirees.

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