Dáil Éireann - Volume 591 - 28 October, 2004

Written Answers. - Hospital Staff.

  72. Mr. McCormack asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if she intends to lift the Government embargo on the recruitment of permanent nurses at hospitals to allow the many closed wards to be opened and to alleviate the problem of patients on trolleys. [26257/04]

  Ms Harney: There is no Government embargo on the recruitment of nurses. The chief executive officer of each individual health board has responsibility for the management of the workforce, including the appropriate staffing mix and the precise grades of staff employed within that board, in line with service plan priorities, subject to the overall employment levels remaining within the authorised ceiling.

The Health Service Employers Agency, HSEA, undertakes a quarterly national survey of nursing resources. The most recent survey reported that the recruitment of additional nurses continued to be a prominent feature of activity with a net increase of 563 nurses in the system in the year ended 30 June 2004.

It is a feature of all acute hospital systems that some beds are out of use for short periods. Bed closures fluctuate over time and may arise for a variety of reasons such as ward refurbishment, essential ward maintenance, staff leave, seasonal closures and infection control measures.