HSE redundancy scheme a fiasco

Posted in Blog by saraburke on November 19, 2010

The HSE early retirement and voluntary redundancy schemes close tonight (19 November 2010). So are they the solution to getting rid of surplus HSE staff or just another example of inept health service management? The schemes are a way of cutting down HSE staff numbers but they are another exemplar of ineptitude of its architects – the Department of Finance and the Minister of Health. The numbers applying are well below the target, the scheme was totally unplanned and is being badly managed.

Announcing the scheme which costs €400 million, Minister Harney said it hoped to achieve a reduction of 5,000 HSE management and administrative staff and support staff would be considered after them. As of this evening just over 3,000 people had applied for the scheme with about 70% of these coming from management/administration grades and 30% from support staff, well short of Mary Harney’s aim.

There is a general consensus that there are too many management admin people in the HSE so what’s wrong with this scheme? Quite simply, it seems like sabotage from the start – it

  • has too short a time frame – it was announced on 1 Nov and people expected to make this life changing decision by today.
  • was badly orchestrated – it is open to all who apply so there is no way of getting rid of people you need to and keeping the good people.
  • has no system in place of managing who leaves from where and what gaps are left – due to moratorium – these people can not be replaced except if deemed necessary through redeployment.
  • was a directive from Dept of HEalth and Finance –  the HSE did not design the scheme but it would be hard to design it in a worse way – just like the HSE establishment.

Sp why was a scheme like this not introduced when the HSE was set up when 11 health boards and many other health agencies were amalgamated?

  • The establishment of the HSE was a fiasco from the start, it was badly planned, it had no leader, an ex-banker was acting CEO for first seven months
  • Even the unions and the DoH pre 2005 were calling for a redundancy and early retirement  schemes, for some rationalisation of old health boards – but in absence of that a deal was done with the acting CEO that no one would lose their job –  this was a very bad deal under the stewardship of Mary Harney and Bertie Ahern.
  • it was a very costly deal – up to 1 billion euro wasted since 2005
  • Minister of Finance Charlie McCreevy was adamant no such package could be in place – as it was happening at same time as decentralisation.

So how is this deal working out? Although there were over 9,000 expressions of interest in people signing up, once again people on the ground are saying it’s a fiasco. People in management/admin grades are being told they are not eligible even though they want to take the scheme and they are not frontline workers and are admin/management grades.

Many people have still not got estimates as to how much they are entitled to. it is very complicated to work out lump sum entitlement due to length of time in services and also there is a very complex grade system in HSE.

The severance is five weeks per year of service with maximum of two years pay – so a middle manager with salary of €50 k and 35 years of service, is entitled to 100k lump sum. Some managers would earn much more and be entitled to more but others such as support staff eg catering/reception would earn v little and often women have broken time in HSE plus not full time so they would get a lot less. Also there are strict conditions as to where you can work or not afterwards and also chances of getting a job in current environment are not high, and some workers pre 1995 not entitled to social welfare – so it is not considered a very good deal.

Another huge problem with the scheme is the open nature of it so there is no way of knowing here the staffing gaps will be. Taking 3-5,000 people out of the system over night will have an impact yet with the plan in place there is no way of planning how  to manage that and how to fill those gaps.

THe only trend the HSE could tell me was that there is more interest coming from the South and West of the country in line with age profile of staff there. The HSE say they will not know details of roles until all applications are in and processed by end of November but then there is just a 4 week turn around as all have to be out of their jobs by 1 Jan 2011.

So there is little if any time to train people in – this may be ok in some areas but not in others – in a way its a total lottery what people will come out of the system and where. The HSE managers are just hoping they can manage ‘fingers crossed we can cope’ and stressed they’d be prioritising services and pay points.

No matter what way you look at it, its the worst possible way to pull 3-5000 people out of the system, its like doing it blind folded and just hoping for the best the whole system does not fall over… Even HSE management say while they were looking for a scheme like this, this is not the way to do it.

One Response

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  1. Deep Throat said, on November 19, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    People should be aware that this scheme was imposed on the HSE by the Dept. of Finance, who has effectively been dictating public health policy in Ireland for a number of years — that of course explains the sorry state it’s in. Health Minister Harney plays along because it helps achieve her goal of running the social health service into the ground so it can be replaced by private “health” money-making machines, piping citizen’s tax money into the pockets of the wealthy. The problem with that is that when a recession happens, the private clinics which she loves to be photgraphed opening will be shut down as soon as they becomes unprofitable.

    Let’s just remember that the HSE isn’t entirely to blame for the mess it’s in. It was thrown together in a political manoeuvre by the PDs with no plan for integration and left to sort out its own affairs in a manner that, had it been a merger of 11 corporations in the private sector, would have been laughed at.

    Finally, people should also be mindful of the fact that callling for the sacking of administration staff in such random exercises is already resulting in forntline medical personnel being unavailable while the try to fill the management gap. Yes, we need efficiencies, but it must be done in a manner that means there’s someone available to tend to your sick child or your elderly parent when you bring them to the emergency department, not busy scheduling outpatient clinics for the next day or sending out appointment letters.

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