There will be no growth in the HSE’s workforce in 2024 as the health services recruitment freeze is extended to include junior doctors and agency staff.

The health service confirmed last week that it was implementing a hiring freeze for new and replacement manager posts in an attempt to manage its runaway budget.

A further memo was sent to HSE staff by CEO Bernard Gloster on Friday confirming that the recruitment freeze was being extended.

Recruitment paused will include Non-Consultant Hospital Doctors (NCHDS), also known as Junior Doctors.

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“This instruction is with immediate effect except for those whereby there is a contractual obligation entered into with a candidate; or for NCHDs who are engaged in an approved post graduate training programme,” the memo said.

There will also be an immediate stop on additional Agency staffing.

Other roles affected include patient and client care, including attendants, healthcare assistants and home help. Some 150 roles can be filled by the end of the year to include 100 ambulance and 50 balance grade workers.

There will also be a freeze on “general support” roles.

Mr Gloster said that 2,000 roles have already been committed to but that other than this “there will be no further growth in the workforce in 2024”.

This will result in 7,000 roles that have already been approved in principle being “removed from the profile”.

Mr Gloster said that while the “funded level” of the HSE is “quite high” it is “not adequate for all current costs”.

“Successful recruitment campaigns in a number of disciplines have also meant that in many cases funded 2023 targets are reached and indeed exceeded at the end of September,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s health spokesman David Cullinane told RTÉ’s News at One that the “implications of the dramatic underfunding of our health services are now starting to become clear”.

“The reality is that this recruitment freeze will really bite. It is non-training junior doctors. It's also healthcare assistants.

“It will be a disaster for health services, it will impact directly on patient care.”

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