Retirement scheme hits services

Over 50 staff members will leave local Liberties hospitals as part of the Government’s early retirement scheme, the Irish Nurses’ and Midwifes’ Organisation (INMO) estimates.

Saint James’s Hospital may lose almost 30 nurses and the Coombe Maternity Hospital could see six experienced midwives retire by the deadline, February 29.

Nearby Crumlin Children’s Hospital may have 20 retirements under the scheme, adding to an extra 30 overseas nurses that have already left.

Other services will have their staff numbers reduced with reports of losing four teachers described as ‘typical’ by a local Teachers’s Union of Ireland (TUI) leader.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin said that the retirements would have no impact on front line services if managers and staff worked together. Yet Dublin’s industrial relations officer for the INMO, Albert Murphy does not agree with the Minister.

“The 2,567 staff (in the health sector) lost is just the third retirement scheme. This obviously will start to affect front line services,” said Mr Murphy.

Mr Murphy explained how the change will affect staff. “They fear that people leaving will make it difficult to maintain standards.”

The Government’s moratorium on recruiting new public sector workers means that positions made available from the retirement scheme will not be filled, reducing overall staff numbers.

“Now (with reduced staff numbers) nurses will become more flexible, but changes will be needed,” he said.

Despite the nurses’s flexibility, he said that Saint James’s was reviewing its operations in light of the retirements. “They’re looking to reduce the number of patients that stay and instead increase the work of the day surgery.”

The hospital held a meeting on February 29 to confirm the numbers left and reveal the hospital’s budget cut. Mr Murphy expected the hospital’s budget to be cut by approximately 7%.

Schools will also be hit by the scheme as local TUI representative, Mick Glynn explained. In his school, Tallaght Community College, four are expected to leave with three leaving behind Leaving Cert classes.

“Other schools fear for the future as we do, but they may suffer more. The extra funding we get through our DEIS status helps us,” he said.

Mr Glynn revealed that teachers feared that cutbacks such as these, along with the moratorium, would discourage people from becoming teachers.

“Nationally the TUI executive is seriously considering taking action. It will ballot for industrial action soon,” he said.

The early retirement scheme was introduced as part of the Government’s plan to reduce worker numbers in the public sector by 2015. The scheme allows public servants to have their pensions calculated on the basis of their higher salaries

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform confirmed that 7,464 retired under the scheme. The scheme allows workers to retire with a pension based on their higher 2009 salaries.

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