Minister fails to back up his claim of 1,500 surplus HSE admin staff

16th September 2013

Public expenditure minister Brendan Howlin has failed to back up his claim that the HSE has identified “at least” 1,500 surplus administrators on its payroll, after IMPACT asked him to do so.

In a letter to IMPACT national secretary Louise O’Donnell, the minister’s private secretary has now said there is “scope for up to 1,500 targeted voluntary redundancies” in the health sector. However, the letter does not say that this figure relates exclusively to administrative staff and suggests that it refers to all grades across the health service.

Ms O’Donnell said this was not surprising because most HSE areas have identified shortfalls in admin staff. She also said less than 10% of staff who applied were allowed to take unpaid career breaks earlier this year, and that the HSE is currently employing 500 agency staff to meet admin staffing shortfalls.

“Once again, a politician has made a populist claim that health service administration is over staffed, but has failed to back it up when challenged. It’s not the first time this figure has been floated in the last few years, yet nobody – neither politician nor HSE official – has been able to identify where the alleged surpluses exist. Clerical and admin staffing has been cut to the bone in most areas and it is incredibly demotivating when politicians take cheap shots at staff who are doing their best to maintain services in this environment,” said Ms O’Donnell.

The number of HSE administrative staff has been reduced to 2002 levels, a far more significant reduction than in any other area of the public service in the recent past.

IMPACT wrote to the minister earlier this month after he made his claim in a radio interview.  In the letter, the union said the claim of 1,500 surplus admin staff was entirely at odds with IMPACT’s day-to-day dealings with health management and the experience of IMPACT members on the ground. 

The letter from the minister’s private secretary acknowledged the efforts and hard work of IMPACT members.