DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Health (Leo Varadkar)
by Deputy Anthony Lawlor for ORAL ANSWER on 03/12/2015
To ask the Minister for Health if the recruitment drive for nurses and doctors currently under way is effective; his plans to further incentivise medical personnel to return here, particularly in terms of support for career development through funding for training and education; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Anthony Lawlor T.D.
We have now moved from a time of retrenchment with a moratorium on public sector recruitment to a time of recovery and building for the future. With a recovering economy, the Health Service Executive is now in a position to offer a wide range of career opportunities for nurses and midwives. Recruitment of additional nurses and consultants is the subject of considerable ongoing activity by the HSE and voluntary hospitals. Recruitment campaigns are underway in Ireland and abroad.

The HSE Census returns for the end of October 2015 show that we have over 750 more nurses employed in the public health services than a year ago – 35,163 whole time equivalent’s compared with 34,404 in October 2014. In July the HSE launched an International Staff Nurse/Midwife Recruitment Campaign which focused on the UK to attract staff nurses and midwives to jobs in Ireland. The current relocation package is up to €1500 in vouched removal/relocation expenses including the cost of flights. At present there is no closing date for this campaign, as the HSE welcomes applications from nurses and midwives who are interested in joining the HSE from abroad on an ongoing basis. The HSE is making arrangements to specifically extend the campaign to locations for certain specialties that are further afield and in this context has sought sanction for an improved relocation package given the additional travel costs that would be involved.

The number of consultants has also grown significantly in recent years to over 2,700. This includes 700 more consultants in the last decade and 320 in the last five years, in spite of the economic crisis, and the Government is committed to further growth. The number of NCHDs has also increased significantly in recent years, by over a 1,000 since March 2011, and now exceeds 5,500. This increase will help to address service needs and progress EWTD compliance, thereby improving the working conditions of doctors.

The ability of the HSE and the health service to attract and retain high quality frontline staff shapes the extent to which the HSE can maintain and develop the range of health services required. The MacCraith Group was established to carry out a strategic review of medical training and career structures. The Group made a series of recommendations in its three reports aimed at improving the retention of medical graduates in the public health system and importantly, planning for future service needs. The implementation of the Group’s recommendations is being actively pursued and monitored. It is noted in particular that, on foot of the Group’s recommendation on new entrant consultants pay, improved rates for new entrant consultants, incorporating incremental credit for relevant experience and qualifications, have been agreed and are being implemented.