QUESTION NO: 221
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Health (Leo Varadkar)
by Deputy Bernard J. Durkan
for WRITTEN ANSWER on 09/07/2015
* To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which nurses from this jurisdiction have opted to seek employment overseas in each of the past six years to date; the degree to which pay and conditions here are comparable to those in adjoining jurisdictions and elsewhere; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Bernard J. Durkan T.D.
Given the significant downturn in the economy in the period from 2007, there was a requirement to reduce public service numbers and maximise savings in the public service. The HSE introduced an embargo on recruitment in 2007, and this was followed by the moratorium on recruitment and promotion in the public sector in 2008. This curtailed nursing recruitment across the public health service. The net effect in terms of nursing numbers was a reduction in excess of 4,500 over the period. During this difficult period there were very few career opportunities for Irish Nursing graduates in the Irish publicly funded health services and as such they emigrated in significant numbers to the UK and Australia.
There has been a significant reduction in the starting salary for all public servants including nurses, given the need to reduce the public sector pay bill. Although the gross salaries for Irish nurses remain comparable with our UK competitors, taxation and other deductions make them less attractive.
While there was a significant reduction in the number of nurses and midwives up to the end of 2013, the position is now improving. The HSE is committed to increasing nursing numbers and to the conversion of agency to permanent posts where feasible. An extra 475 nurses and midwives have been employed between May 2014 and May 2015. In addition, the HSE is planning to recruit over 600 nurses across a number of nursing disciplines. There is significant work being undertaken to achieve this. This includes recent and ongoing national and local interviewing of General Nurses, Mental Health, Intellectual Disability, Registered Children’s Nurses and Midwives. The HSE has also developed an International Nurse Recruitment Project for filling posts. This initiative is a targeted recruitment drive in the UK primarily focused on Irish trained nurses who left during the moratorium. In order to facilitate this the services of a recruitment agency has been secured. It is hoped that the first of the interviews will commence in the coming weeks in a number of UK cities with the first nurses due to commence duty in August.