HSE set to extend JobBridge scheme
on 09/02/2013 00:00:00
The figure is almost double the 103 places provided in the first three years of the JobBridge initiative.
It adds to union concerns that the HSE is increasingly turning to cut-price workers to make life-saving decisions at a time when managers are still receiving Celtic Tiger-era salaries.
Between Jan 2010 and Dec 2012, a total of 103 qualified workers were given short-term, low-paying JobBridge roles. Positions included for highly skilled physiotherapists, psychologists, nurses, and speech and language experts.
No roles were filled in 2010; eight were in 2011; and 87 were filled last year.
This year, 192 positions are planned across a range of similar services.
According to the FOI figures, the service's four regions - HSE South, HSE West, HSE Dublin Mid Leinster, and HSE Dublin North East - will all fill 48 JobBridge posts this year.
The HSE South, HSE Dublin Mid Leinster, and HSE Dublin North East have yet to clarify how these roles will be used.
However, the HSE West has confirmed it will use the openings to employ at least four chartered physiotherapists, four speech and language therapists, two nurses, three occupational therapists, and as many as 19 clerical officers.
The figures emerged at the same time as the final application deadline last Thursday for five new senior HSE management jobs which come with a €158,000-a-year taxpayer price tag.
The positions are being created as part of Health Minister James Reilly's May 2012 plan to replace the HSE with a series of directorates.
The five national director roles will see individuals appointed to oversee primary care, social care, mental health, acute hospitals, and health/wellbeing.
They were only available to applicants from within the HSE, Department of Health, and Health Information Quality Authority.
While the HSE said the high-paying jobs are "cost neutral", Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher said the significant salaries contradict the slash-and-save JobBridge approach being imposed on graduates.
"It is exorbitant against the background of cutting nurses pay by 20% and with his [Mr Reilly's] plans to cut 3,000 staff from the health service in 2013," he said.
The latest JobBridge row has developed as Mr Reilly continues a stand-off with unions over attempts to employ nurse graduates under the scheme.
Despite the fact his plan to employ 1,000 nurse graduates on reduced pay in order to help cut costs has led to between 40 and 100 applications after two deadline extensions, Mr Reilly has insisted the initiative remains alive.
Picture: Gardaí outnumber protesters as MEP Paul Murphy and the Socialist Party launch the scambridge.ie campaign to oppose the JobBridge scheme and to highlight the abuses of the scheme. Picture: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland