HSE recruitment freeze rubs salt in the wound–Solidarity with HSE staff

Fórsa members are engaging in a campaign against the moratorium on recruitment from the HSE. We send our full support to staff staging lunchtime protests today and tomorrow. This action by Fórsa can be the start of a campaign to defend and expand the health service. 

We also send our solidarity to INMO nurses and midwives, balloting for industrial action for safe staffing in some hospitals. 

Nurses on wards and clerical and administrative staff are all reporting that understaffing is putting patient safety at risk. Already in acute services, the average waiting time is nearly 12 hours. The impact of this freeze can cost lives. 

Already struggling mental health services will also be impacted by this freeze, as will services such as CAMHS, which are being pushed towards breaking point.

As we enter deeper into the winter period, increased pressure on the health service will mean more staff burnout and an increased risk to patient safety. Rather than accepting the bare minimum, the health service must be expanded and properly resourced. 

The line put forward by the HSE that is hitting recruitment targets this year should mean an end to recruitment is flawed. What is behind this is the increased budget restrictions on the HSE. The Department of Health sought an additional €2 billion to fund existing levels of service in Budget 2024 but received only €708 million, plus an additional €100 million for new developments. 

Safe staffing levels must be the priority, regardless of so-called ‘budgetary restrictions’. We are not a poor society. There is enormous wealth available to not only meet the population’s immediate needs but to massively expand the health service – making it free and accessible to all who need it. 

There is huge support for health service staff. We all have or will rely upon them at some point in our lives. It was health service staff who were on the frontline battling the pandemic. The Government was happy to applaud them then but now denies them the respect of decent working conditions. 

Industrial action by health service staff can be successful. We do not have to accept that funding is outside our control. RCN Nurses in the North won equal pay in 2019 after several strikes. Likewise, strike action by nurses and doctors in Britain secured pay increases from the Tory Government. Organised campaigns of industrial action combined with protests involving the wider public, who hugely support our health staff, can make the pressure on the Government unbearable and win the kind of health service that all working-class people need.

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