Government praise for frontline heroes’ rings hollow
Failure to reveal amounts paid to recruitment agencies “unacceptable”
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett has said that a response to a parliamentary question to him from the HSE has revealed that despite all of the praise heaped on healthcare workers by the government and statements from Health Minister Simon Harris that he was keen to recruit more healthcare staff, that hundreds of people who have applied under the ‘Call for Ireland’ have not been recruited on a permanent basis for the health service.
He said that those who were employed under the scheme have been done so under “the most precarious and short term contracts possible – essentially hire and fire‘em contracts”. He also pointed out that the government and the HSE will still not reveal how much money is being paid to recruitment agencies for this.
The PQ reply from the HSE outlines the figures which show that the actuality of the recruitment process is contrary to the Minister’s statements. They show that the candidates were offered three-month contracts and no sick pay. The letter notes that: “To date 1930 people have been deemed successful, 111 have been appointed and 663 are “Job Ready” and available for employment when they are required.”
Deputy Boyd Barrett TD said: “The praise and good will heaped upon healthcare workers who bravely signed up for the ‘Call for Ireland’ and all the government fanfare about extra recruitment is shown in this PQ reply to be nothing more than cover for the fact that the healthcare workers who were employed were placed on the most precarious contracts, with no sick pay and no prospect of being kept on after the Covid crisis is resolved. The vast majority of those who applied have not been employed at all.
“Instead of recruiting these workers on proper long-term contracts so that we can fix the major problems in our health service, which was in a dire state pre-covid, the government has essentially decided to make these recruitments temporary. This is totally inexplicable. The health service pre-covid was in a dire state with shocking levels of understaffing, huge waiting lists and inadequate bed capacity.
“We desperately need permanent and major increases in staffing to increase the capacity of the health system, both to deal with Covid19 and the huge non-covid related waiting lists. So, the failure to recruit qualified applicants simply beggar’s belief.
“Furthermore, the government has flatly rejected calls, made by me, to outline how much the state is paying recruitment companies like CPL and others instead of directly employing these health staff in order to move to a fully functional single tier health system which is what we will need if there is another Covid wave, and to provide adequate healthcare into the future. Such a lack of transparency is quite frankly unacceptable, and I am reiterating my call for the government to provide these amounts.”