Kerry Fianna Fáil TD, John Brassil has said Minister for Health, Simon Harris must intervene and ensure that the commitment made earlier this year that all 2016 and 2017 nursing graduates would be offered permanent contracts by the HSE.

Deputy Brassil was commenting after being contacted by a number of mental health nursing graduates from the Institute of Technology in Tralee who have yet to be offered any contracts by the HSE despite the personnel gaps in the mental health service in the county.

Last April, the National HR Director for the HSE wrote to all 2016 and 2017 graduates saying ‘For the avoidance of doubt, 2016/2017 nurse graduates will be offered permanent contracts having regard to service need and subject to the usual satisfactory recruitment processes.’

“While all general nursing graduates have been offered employment by the HSE, there are a number of mental health nursing graduates still without an offer of employment.

“In the Cork/Kerry Mental Health Service, overtime spend on nursing to date in 2017 has exceeded over €500,000 and the service has offered part time contracts to retired former staff members.

“This makes no sense to me. We know that there is a severe shortage of mental health nurses in the country, especially in counties such as Kerry and Cork, yet the HSE isn’t offering jobs to those who want to stay and work in the Irish health service.

“It struck me as I was listening to contributions at the Mental Health Symposium that if we can’t get the basics right in terms of employing the mental health nurses who actually want to stay and work in the HSE, then we will continue to fail our people who need these crucial, and often lifesaving services.

“Minister Harris needs to intervene, and find out why these particular nurses haven’t been offered contracts.

“We know that a significant number of medical and nursing graduates chose to move and work overseas, but when they want to stay and work here in Ireland, we need to do everything we can to keep them.

“Leaving them hanging without offers of employment is a scandal when there is such crying need for extra capacity in the mental health service,” concluded Brassil.