SIPTU Health Division has called for an urgent meeting with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Department of Health following the decision to implement a recruitment freeze on many grades represented by the union within the health service.
The freeze was revealed in a HSE memo, released today, which confirmed that grades such as Health Care Assistants, Healthcare Support Assistants (or Home Helps), porters, catering assistants, chefs, security personnel and others will all be affected by the decision.
The union said that such a freeze would also affect agency staff, who have traditionally been used to fill vacant posts, maternity leave or long-term sick leave within the healthcare workforce.
Kevin Figgis, SIPTU Divisional Organiser, said: “The decision to implement a recruitment freeze on many of the grades represented by our union has come as a great shock to our members. Many of the grades affected are patient-facing and there will be an inevitable knock-on effect on services.
“What is most alarming about this decision is that we are fast approaching the difficult winter period. Services already struggle to contain the pressures which invariably arise. Our members will now face an impossible situation if a recruitment freeze prohibits the refilling of a vacant patient-facing post within the acute setting or community healthcare.”
Damian Ginley, SIPTU Sector Organiser, said: “Our members provide direct care to patients in hospital or through the community in services such as Healthcare Support Assistants. Their patients and service users are some of the most vulnerable people in society and also some of the most in need of support.
“The HSE has recently stated its wish to extend service provision across the weekend. The decision today will stop any of those plans in their tracks as existing staff are under enough pressure as it is.”