Current recruitment pause in the HSE is crippling the health service – INMO

General secretary of INMO says people are now afraid to go to public hospitals

The current recruitment pause in the HSE is crippling the health service, nurses have said.

The general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) Phil Ni Sheaghdha said people were now afraid to go to public hospitals.

She said they were afraid of the waiting times and afraid they may not be seen in time.

Speaking at the Oireachtas committee on health on Wednesday, she insisted that despite official denials, there were restrictions in place on staff being taken on in the health service.


She said directives sent out by top HSE management on recruitment represented a de facto moratorium.

She said the recruitment pause was affecting front line services for patients while the health of personnel currently employed was being affected by the pressures caused by staff shortages.

Dying on trolleys

The INMO chief said decreases in palliative care services, meant people were dying on trolleys in hospital emergency departments.

She said nurses who had taken career breaks and who wanted to return to work, were not now being allowed to do this because of the recruitment restrictions.

Ms Ni Sheaghdha said health service management needed to implement an agreement to establish a funded work force plan to set out the number of nurses and midwives required to provide a safe service.

She said the Government had told the HSE to stay within budget and the HSE, in turn, had hit the lowest hanging fruit — the workforce — to achieve this.

Ms Ni Sheaghdha said under the current recruitment directive, when a post became vacant the signature of a HSE chief officer or head of a hospital group was needed to authorise the advertising of replacement positions.

“You can imagine the delays this causes in an acute hospital workforce of 17,000.”

She said recruitment numbers were going backwards in some cases.

She said there were nearly 400 fewer staff nurses in place than in December last year.

She said the Government maternity strategy required an increase of 240 midwives to reach appropriate staffing to birth ratios. She said the health service was now further away from this target than in 2017.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent