SIPTU has received confirmation from the Department of Health that it does not intend to extend the controversial Nurse Graduate Scheme to other health professional grades. The issue was raised at a meeting with Department of Health officials on Tuesday (22nd January) following weekend media reports which claimed that the Minister for Health, James Reilly, was considering implementing a 20% reduction in the pay of newly graduated health professionals similar to that envisaged in the Nurse Graduate Scheme.At the meeting, the officials confirmed that there was no proposal to extend the graduate recruitment programme to Allied Health Professionals and that the comment attributed to the Minister was not consistent with any policy initiative being explored by health service management.SIPTU Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “At the meeting Department of Health officials confirmed that no such extension of the Nurse Graduate Scheme was planned. This confirmation is welcomed.”He added: “The Department must now demand that the HSE ends its attempts to recruit 1,000 nurses and midwives on 80% of the staff nurse salary scale following the refusal of graduates to sign up to the scheme.”Less than 50 graduates have applied to take part in the Nurse Graduate Scheme which offers successful candidates €21,700 per annum against the current rate for new entrants of €27,234 which is paid to all nurses and midwives employed since 1st January 2011.