Just a dozen nurses to start by June on HSE’s lower paid graduate programme


So far, only eight graduate nurses have been employed under the controversial two-year contracts on lower pay offered by the Health Service Executive (HSE) though, according to the Minister for Health, James Reilly, a further five nurses are due to start under the graduate programme next month.

Under the scheme, graduate nurses receive 80 per cent of the staff nurse rate. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) urged nurses to boycott the new posts.

Under new proposals given to unions last week by HSE management, the pay rate would increase to 85 per cent of the staff nurse salary in the first year and would rise to 90 per cent in the second year.

However, this is conditional on nurses working a 39-hour week rather than the 37-hour week specified under the original rules of the scheme.

Extended timeframe
Dr Reilly told the Dáil last week that “the scheme was introduced on the assumption that intake would be spread over an extended timeframe, especially since the scheme was being introduced some months after most 2012 graduates completed their training.

“The HSE has decided that applications for Phase I, covering registered general nurses for the acute hospital setting and the community, will be accepted on a rolling basis for 2012 graduates, and also those who graduated in 2010 and 2011.

“Phase II, which covers graduate general nurses, mental health, intellectual disability and graduate midwife nurses, launched in mid-February.

“To date, eight graduate nurses have taken up employment in two locations.

“A further five have start dates agreed for June. Recruitment will continue during 2013 and encompass those who will be graduating in the autumn.”

Meanwhile, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) is to press the Government on its controversial 30 per cent reduction in salaries for new hospital consultants as part of the new talks on the retention of and career paths for doctors in the Irish healthcare system.

The Government agreed to enter into these discussions as part of proposals agreed at the Labour Relations Commission last week on plans to reduce the public service pay bill in the wake of the rejection of the Croke Park II agreement.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the new talks between public service management and the IMO would begin by next month.

Asked whether the issue of pay rates for newly appointed hospital consultants would be on the table, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said: “The parties have committed to review the current NCHD and consultant career structure with the aim of further developing the career and training pathways from intern to consultant/specialist level.

“This will take account of service needs, training and service posts, the health reform programme, the urgent requirement to reduce NCHD working hours and developments in relation to EU legislation.

“The overall objective is the retention of graduates of Irish Medical Schools within the public health system and the attraction back to Ireland of such graduates – where they have left previously.”

Reduced pay rates
Last September the Government decided unilaterally to reduce pay rates for newly appointed consultants by 30 per cent.

This meant pay scales for consultants with a type A (public only) contract, appointed from the beginning of October, started at €116,207 compared with €166,000 at the start of 2011.

Starting pay rates for consultants with type B contracts, which allow for limited private practice rights, fell to €109,381 from €156,258.

Pay rates for the highest paid doctors – academic consultants with a type A contract – fell from €231,653 to just under €146,000.

Career paths
The IMO said last week that the issue of retention and career paths for doctors within the Irish health system and, in particular, the recruitment and retention of consultants had been identified by its members as crucial for the future of the medical profession in Ireland.