The chairperson of the Save Our Services campaign has called the Health Service Executive’s managerial recruitment “baffling”, when front-line services are struggling.
“This announcement gives testimony for a bureaucratic system out of control,” Father John Joe Duffy, chairperson of the SOS campaign, said.
Father John Joe was responding to the news that the HSE was hiring 21 general managers in Community Healthcare Organization (CHO) areas across the country. The positions are temporary, pending further determination.
Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin TD, also slammed the decision, saying recruitment of health service staff must focus on improving key front-line services, not expanding HSE management.
The posts include two in CHO Area 1, which includes Donegal, Sligo/Leitrim and Cavan/Monaghan.
Father John Joe said the positions, “put promotional managerial jobs at senior management level ahead of patient care.
“It also shows a total disregard and lack of duty of care for their own front-line staff, who are already overworked and overstretched in community hospitals and acute hospitals,” he said.
He said front-line staff, “are already pinned to the collar. We can see it in our visits to the hospitals, that they are under huge pressure.”
Father John Joe asked: “If we don’t care for the front-line staff, who are going to care for the patients?”
He said community hospitals have beds unfilled because they do not have the necessary complement of staff. Those beds could free beds in Letterkenny University Hospital by providing step-down services, he said.
Deputy Doherty said, “While these management posts are now to come on stream, patients and those already working within the health services have been waiting have been waiting months and even years for various nursing, medical and consultancy positions, both community and hospital based, to be filled.”
He said he will raise the issue with the minister.
In a statement, the HSE said the managerial positions will be filled internally and result in no overall increase in employment.
The HSE said the campaign “is critical to the significant reform of structures in the delivery of community health services” with the establishment of nine CHOs across the country, and was sanctioned by the Department of Health.
“The HSE continues to recruit and fill vacancies across services with a priority focus on front-line staff, subject to the overall pay bill ceiling as allocated by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to the Department of Health,” the HSE said.
They said employment across the health services by the end of July grew in this past year by 1,757 whole-time equivalents (WTEs). They said clinical staff, such as health care assistants/nurse aides, etc. have increased by 1,220 WTEs. They said nursing has risen by 359 WTEs and health and social care professionals by 425 WTEs in the same period.