Explanation needed for 3 month recruitment and OT freeze in HSE letter

07 April 2019

Labour Health spokesperson Alan Kelly has described the three month recruitment and overtime embargo introduced by the HSE so early into 2019 as extraordinary, and called for an urgent explanation on what positions can be recruited, and what is now blocked. The letter specifically says no new or replacement posts can proceed to offer stage. Career breaks returns are also blocked, and overtime has been capped.

A link to the letter is appended below, and available for download

Deputy Kelly said:

“I’ve been made aware of a letter from the Deputy Director General and Chief Operations Officer of the HSE circulated across the service over the last week halting all recruitment and overtime for the next three months.

“We keep being told of record budgets for Health but there is now a three month hiring freeze across the HSE to get the budget under control, and it is only April. A letter circulated this week from the Chief Operations Office of the HSE states this is to cope with financial pressures from 2018 hires. Why wasn’t this accounted for in the financial settlement for this year and if there isn’t enough money for staff in 2019 we need to know from the HSE and the Minister for Health what is happening and why?

“The letter says the Department of Health has been notified, which would indicate the HSE has taken this decision independent of the Minister. The Minister should tell us if he knows what is going on in his health service?

“What this letter shows is that the 2019 budget is being used to cover overruns from last year. The letter specially says no new or replacement posts can proceed to offer stage. It is quite unbelievable that in critical service areas where specialist staff may retire or leave they now can’t be replaced, nor according to this letter can people on career break decide to come back over the next three months. Essentially they will have to wait until the budget situation improves.

“Meanwhile, instead of tackling the problems in our health service Fine Gael is engaged in pre-election stunts announcing free GP care and dental care for children that won’t come in for years. The Minister for Health needs to tell us what is going on instead of engaging in spin focused launches.

“This hiring and OT freeze decision will further impact on waiting lists and the crisis in our A&Es. Over the last week alone we’ve seen a status black in Cork University Hospital and record overcrowding conditions in University Hospital Limerick. And as we are all too aware, children are not getting the specialist treatments and services they need – in mental health, dentistry and occupational therapy.

“It’s unprecedented that only three months into the year the HSE have to tell all sections to stop recruiting. It’s not clear if this decision was approved by the Minister for Health or Minister for Finance or why it’s being done now but we need to know that our health service can hire the staff it needs in the areas under pressure.”


Copy of letter available here:


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