Health chiefs are 'embarrassing' for not knowing how many vacancies exist in Cork

Health chiefs are 'embarrassing' for not knowing how many vacancies exist in Cork

CORK Kerry Community Healthcare has been labelled “embarrassing” for claiming it cannot provide information on the number of vacancies within the health service in Cork.

The Echo had requested, under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act, the number of vacant HSE and Cork Kerry Community Healthcare (CKCH) positions in Cork and their role.

In response, the health body refused the request claiming it “does not have access to a HR business information system and therefore it is not possible to provide detailed or accurate information on the number and role of vacancies within our service”.

The health service used the same excuse for a second FOI request, seeking the number of vacancies in the past two years and the number of vacancies filled in that time.

They also refused to provide information on the average length of time it takes to advertise and fill a position once it has been vacated.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) had previously claimed there are around 100 nursing vacancies across two Cork hospitals and community services.

Speaking to The Echo, Liam Conway, Industrial Relations Officer for the INMO in Cork, labelled the response to the FOI request as “embarrassing”.

“If they don’t know their own vacancies, I don’t know what kind of an operation they’re running,” he said.

“We believe there are around 50 vacancies across Cork and Kerry.

“We have sought clarity on that and haven’t been provided with that information as yet,” he added.

“But the fact that they’re saying here that they can’t say is just embarrassing.

“It’s madness really.” 

CKCH did grant one part of the FOI request which sought the number of public health nurse vacancies in Cork by area.

The service claimed that as of November 11 this year, there was one vacant position in North Lee and another in West Cork, and that the recruitment process for both public health nurse positions was underway.

However, Mr Conway claimed the level of vacancies could be higher.

“There is more than that because people going on maternity leave have not been replaced,” he said.

“They’re not getting staff in and they appear to think they’re above providing information despite the fact they’re a state body.” 

In response, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare said that it has more than 6,000 roles or positions, some of which are filled by more than one member of staff.

A spokesperson said that there is constant turnover and recruitment in the organisation and that it would require too much work to contact every line manager, who would have a record of their own vacancies.

The organisation did reveal that, between the end of April 2019 to the end of October 2019, a total of 610 posts were approved by the Chief Officer to be submitted nationally for approval to recruit.

“That means that each month, we approve an average of 100 vacancies for filling,” explained the spokesperson.

“It takes, on average, six months to fill a vacancy.

“It is very important to note that some of these positions are being covered on a temporary basis while recruitment is underway, either by someone acting in the post on a temporary basis, through over-time or where absolutely necessary through agency staff.”

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