Fórsa has again criticised the “lazy narrative in media and political circles,” which constantly criticises health service admin and managerial staff. In evidence to an Oireachtas committee looking into workforce planning in the sector, the union’s head of health Éamonn Donnelly rejected the false notion that the health service is awash with bureaucrats.
“In fact, the number of administrative staff in the Irish health sector is lower than many international comparators. Clerical staff are charged with important tasks, including paying the wages of doctors and nurses, and they are often the first point of contact for the public.
“The casual acceptance of this false narrative is demoralising for this group of workers, many of whom bore the biggest brunt of the cull on staff numbers during the financial crisis,” he said.
Donnelly said he supported the introduction of a performance system for senior managers. “At the very least it would protect them from generic and inaccurate allegations of incompetence, which are frequently made without any basis in fact,” he said.
He criticised HSE chief Paul Reid for taking to the national media to say the numbers of managers should be reduced, including through a redundancy scheme. “This assertion was made without any meaningful analysis. When this approach was tried before it created a massive deficit of corporate knowledge which saw the HSE hiring managers again.”
Earlier this month, the HSE agreed to meet Fórsa over Reid’s statement on the need for voluntary redundancies sometime next year. This came after the union wrote demanding that the agency conform to public service agreements.
In a response to Fórsa’s head of health, Éamonn Donnelly, the HSE’s national director of human resources conceded that management would abide by its obligations to consult and engage with the union.