Union says only 60 nurses applied for jobs
Liam Doran, INMO general secretary, during a nurses' protest in Dublin yesterday. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Minister for Health Dr James Reilly has said he is looking forward to reopening discussions with trade unions on a controversial nurse graduate scheme after it emerged that it has failed to attract a significant number of applicants.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association had urged members to boycott the scheme which would see staff paid 20 per cent less than the current official rate.
The HSE had originally sought to appoint 1,000 nursing graduates under the programme.
However, yesterday it acknowledged that the number of applicants for the scheme had been low. It declined to put a figure on the number.
General secretary of the INMO Liam Doran suggested the number of applicants could be as low as 50 or 60.
Asked on a visit to Cork about other reports that only 40 applications had been received, Dr Reilly said such a figure was “inaccurate; the figure is considerably higher, more than double that”.
However, he also declined to set out the number of applicants.
Yesterday was the deadline for receipt of applications under the graduate scheme.
The HSE said it would continue to accept applications for the scheme on a continuous rolling basis.
The HSE also said the initiative was open to graduates who qualified in 2010 and 2011, as well as those who finished college in 2012.
It said that all employment to be offered to 2013 graduates would be under the new scheme.
It also maintained that nurses participating in the graduate programme would be supported to complete a certificate in advanced healthcare skills, such as health assessment and pharmacology.
About 350 nurses took part in a rally outside the headquarters of the HSE in Dublin yesterday in protest at the new programme.
However, Dr Reilly defended the graduate scheme. “This is not so much about saving money as about offering people the opportunity to stay here in this country to continue their training as well as to work in the health system.”
“I’m looking forward to re-engaging with the INMO on this so we can between us make this available to our young nurses whom we spent a lot of money training at this point, and to be sending them abroad to me makes no sense.”
Dr Reilly declined to say what exactly he was going to propose to the INMO.
He said he did not want to engage in “megaphone diplomacy with the union” but he was anxious to focus on what the programme could offer young nurses to make them more employable.
Nursing unions said their boycott of the new graduate scheme was working and would continue.