Reilly to extend graduate scheme


Minister for Health James Reilly has signalled his intention to extend the controversial graduate recruitment scheme for nurses to other areas of the health service.

Despite the low take-up for the nurses’ scheme, Dr Reilly says he may introduce a similar scheme for physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other professions.

He brushed off criticism of the scheme by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) , which has organised a successful boycott of his plans.

Informed sources say there have been fewer than 50 applications for the 1,000 places on the scheme, under which newly qualified nurses would be paid 80 per cent of normal starting salary for two years.

The stance of the INMO was regrettable but not a game-changer, Dr Reilly told the Sunday Business Post. “I regret the fact that the INMO has decided to take this approach, but so be it. The system has 35,000 nurses. If we don’t have 36,000, we don’t have 36,000.”

The Minister said he had secured a big concession from the troika, which allowed the HSE to hire 1,000 nursing and midwifery graduates over the employment ceiling. The only alternative open to those graduates was to emigrate or work in a fast food outlet, he said.

Dr Reilly was heavily critical of the VHI for failing to control costs and said he would use his influence to prevent it imposing another price hike on consumers. He said he was tired of hearing about the VHI paying for medical procedures that never even took place.

The Government is committed to retaining the VHI in public ownership, but Dr Reilly said he was not opposed to selling off parts of the organisation subject to Cabinet approval.

He declined to comment on his role, if any, in negotiating the €20 million pay package with former Irish Medical Organisation chief executive George McNeice. Dr Reilly was a senior figure in the organisation at the time

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