Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has called on Minister James Reilly to urgently review the terms and conditions for the graduate nurse recruitment scheme in light of very low application numbers.

Deputy Kelleher said: “The government’s decision to slash pay for newly qualified nurses was a cheap shot when it was announced last month and nurses have given a clear response by simply refusing to apply for the posts. The fact that the HSE has now decided to expand recruitment to include nurses who graduated in previous years proves their recruitment campaign is failing.

“The HSE wants newly qualified nurses to take up two year contracts for 80% of the lowest rate of nurses pay. That’s just not fair or sustainable. It follows on from the attack on newly qualified teachers and shows the government appears intent on forcing qualified young public servants into low paying jobs.

“The reality of the government’s policy is that qualified nurses and teachers are going to end up looking for work abroad. I have already heard from nurses who feel it is not fair to expect them to work alongside others in the profession, doing the exact same work, for less money. Minister Reilly needs to see sense here and review the terms and conditions of the cut-price jobs he’s offering to graduate nurses.”