HSE paid more than €130,000 to 10 staff nurses in 2018
Median nursing salary including overtime was almost €50,000
A total of 3,420 nurses were paid between €20,000 and €29,999; 4,818 were paid between €30,000 and €39,999; and 6,573 were paid between €40,000 and €49,999. Photograph: Regis Duvignau
Ten staff nurses in the Health Service Executive earned more than €130,000 in 2018, with three of those earning more than €140,000.
The figures, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, show a total of 87 HSE nursing staff were paid more than €100,000 in salary payments last year. This is an increase of nine on the 78 who earned in excess of €100,000 in 2017.
Those earning six-figure sums were mainly psychiatric nurses who earn large portions of their total pay in overtime, sometimes more than half their salary.
The figures disclosed by the HSE show the median salary, including overtime, for the 31,415 nursing staff employed during the year was close to €50,000.
A spokesman for the HSE ascribed the high overtime pay for psychiatric nurses to staff shortages in particular regions or in particular specialities.
He said overtime was used in psychiatric care at times when there were staff vacancies to ensure continuity of service, particularly in frontline services to patients.
“Every effort is made to minimise the use of overtime as we are very aware of the need for both staff and patient care, but there are occasions when there is no alternative.
“Overtime figures should be considered in the overall context of delivering mental health services, including increasing demand for services and the ongoing challenges in relation to the recruitment and retention of nurses within mental health.”
The spokesman said there were “particular challenges” in recruitment in some geographic areas and in some specialities. He said that additional funding for nursing courses would see extra recruits coming into the service in 2019.
High overtime earnings by psychiatric nurses is not a new phenomenon – for example, four earned more than €140,000 in 2012.
Peter Hughes, general secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, said the figures reflected the overreliance within the HSE on overtime to maintain services.
The data released covers every nurse who was paid by the HSE during the year, including those who worked part-time, or who only worked for a portion of the year, including those who left its employment, or who started work. Those cohorts would have been included in the 3,754 nurses who were paid €20,000 or less in 2018.
A total of 3,420 nurses were paid between €20,000 and €29,999; 4,818 were paid between €30,000 and €39,999; and 6,573 were paid between €40,000 and €49,999.
A similar number (6,653) was paid between €50,000-€59,999; while 4,374 received salary payments of between €60,000 and €69,999.
When it came to higher salaries, 443 were paid between €80,000 and €89,999 and 172 were paid between €90,000 and €99,999.
Some 53 nurses were paid between €100,000 and 109,999 while 21 were paid between €110,000 and €119,999. Thirteen were paid more than €120,000.