HSE appointed three new managers every week in 2017

HSE focused on ‘box ticking’ rather than improving health service, says consultant

Some 1,159 people were working at national director, assistant national director, general manager and grade VIII level within the HSE by the end of June this year

Some 1,159 people were working at national director, assistant national director, general manager and grade VIII level within the HSE by the end of June this year

 

Nearly three new HSE managers were appointed every week in the first half of 2017 despite the lack of nurses and consultants in hospitals across the country, according to the latest figures from the health service.

Some 1,159 people were working at national director, assistant national director, general manager and grade VIII level within the HSE by the end of June this year, marking an increase of more than 50 per cent in managerial positions since 2013.

In its response to a parliamentary question from Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Billy Kelleher, the HSE confirmed that the number of people working as managers increased by 84 in the first half of 2017.

“The recruitment of these managers has coincided with staff shortages and deteriorating services elsewhere in the health sector,” said Mr Kelleher.

“We are crying out for nurses and consultants in many of our acute hospitals, and figures releases last week revealed a fall in dental surgeons across the country.”

“If there is one area of the health service where the HSE has no difficulty recruiting it’s in the managerial area. While they struggle to fill white coats, they seem to have a special talent for increasing the numbers of white collar staff”.

Mr Kelleher submitted the question in July following an earlier request for data on the number of managerial appointments since 2012.

The response revealed that the number of managerial posts had risen by more than 50 per cent since 2013, with 1,075 personnel serving at director and manager level in December 2016.

‘Get up off your butt’

Mr Kelleher said he would be sceptical of any claims that the rising number of managerial appointments are “essential” and queried whether the HSE could present any other area of the health service which had experienced such a sharp rise in staffing levels.

Prof Michael O’Keeffe, consultant ophthalmologist surgeon at the Mater and Temple Street hospital, called on the minister for health to “get up off his butt” and hire more nurses, doctors and consultants rather than appointing managerial positions.

“If managers could solve the health crisis we would have the best health service in the world,” Prof O’Keeffe told Newstalk Breakfast.

“But they don’t. This is bordering on the ridiculous.”

“Instead of front line staff, they seem to think managers can solve the crisis. There are managers at every turn. It is farcical.”

Accusing Simon Harris of “pious platitudes”, Prof O’Keeffe said he was not surprised by the latest figures from the HSE and that the health service was focused on “box ticking” exercises rather than making proper plans to improve care.

“It is time for the Minister to get up off his butt and solve this problem. He needs to get rid of half of these managers.”

A statement from the HSE said “significant restructuring of the health services”, including changes in the organisation’s structure, services provided and skill-mix, should be taken into account when comparing staff numbers over extended periods of time. It noted that service management/administrative staff numbers were cut by more than 15 per cent between 2009 and 2012, following the Government moratorium on recruitment and promotion.

The restructuring which followed the Government moratorium, which included a focus on mental health, care of the elderly and disability services, required “strong managerial structures, leadership and governance in order to be successful”, said a HSE spokesman.

He added that the on-going restructuring of the health service was placing “increasing demands on health managers across the health services in their day-to-day management roles”.

There were 16 national directors, 121 assistant national directors, 69 senior managers, 344 general managers and 609 grade VIII working with the health service on June 30th, 2017 according to the HSE.

Nearly two thirds of these posts are made up of people working in acute, community, health & wellbeing and national ambulance services.