HSE criticised over recruitment process

Sunday 20 July 2014 22.38
Fine Gael's Senate spokesperson on Health Colm Burke strongly criticised the recruitment process
Fine Gael's Senate spokesperson on Health Colm Burke strongly criticised the recruitment process

A Fine Gael Senator has strongly criticised the HSE for appointing over 1,100 administrative and managerial staff to permanent posts without going through a formal recruitment process. 

Speaking on RTÉ's "This Week" programme, Fine Gael's Senate spokesperson on Health Colm Burke said that without formal interviews, it could not be assessed whether the right people were getting the right jobs - and whether the taxpayer was getting value for money. 

The HSE currently has 15,082 management/administrative staff - down almost 14% from its peak. 

However, 1,126 of those 15,000 have been made permanent after acting up in a higher role for a period - without going through a competitive interview. 

This means that around 7.5% of the HSE's managerial/administrative employees have not gone through the usual competitive recruitment process.

In a statement to RTÉ, the HSE acknowledged that this method of appointment is "not the desirable route" for filling essential vacancies.

 However, it stresses that it is bound by the government approved moratorium on hiring staff.

It said that under the moratorium, it is obliged to fill essential posts through redeployment and by seeking "expressions of interest" from staff.

The HSE also points out that it is permitted to appoint people who are acting up under so-called "regularisation" provisions outlined in the Croke Park and Haddington Road Agreements.

It says that 943 staff who were acting up were regularised in permanent posts under the Croke Park Agreement, a further 141 were regularised under the Haddington Road Agreement, while 42 temporary posts have been created. 

Senator Colm Burke said that he accepted that the vast majority of the staff in the HSE worked very hard.

However, he noted that with €3bn removed from the health budget the key issue was  whether the taxpayer was getting value for money. 

He said that central to that was appointing the right people to the right job but added that he was not convinced that that was occurring without a proper interview process. 

He said managers needed certain skills - particularly where they were managing people - and without a formal interview,  that could not be assessed. 

He also queried whether all potential candidates were being given a fair opportunity to apply for promotion, or for selection for acting up positions, without a formal interview process.

Senator Burke was asked whether he was criticising his own party and government who were implementing the recruitment moratorium which had led to the staffing pressures. 

He said part of Government policy was that as vacancies arose the number of positions would not be increased. However, he said there was nothing in government policy to say that proper procedures could not be followed.