SIPTU representatives told the Joint Oireachtas Health Committee today (Wednesday 20th November) that the HSE recruitment embargo across all grades in the health service and related agencies is putting the lives and health of patients at risk. At the committee it was stated that hundreds of vacancies exist throughout the health service in radiography, support grades and other health services that is exacerbating the waiting list crisis and the delivery of appropriate care.  Speaking at the Committee, SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “SIPTU members contend that the focus of health management from the HSE, Department of Health and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform is almost entirely on cost reduction.  “This results in departments not receiving approval to recruit identified safe staffing levels and health workers do not have guaranteed access to funding for postgraduate courses which are essential to the service they provide. This is only exacerbating the crisis in recruitment and retention and potentially putting the lives of patients at risk.” SIPTU Honorary Vice President, Michele Monahan, said: “There is no doubt staff want to provide a service in an environment which respects the dignity of all. SIPTU representatives contend the principle of ‘Right Person, Right Place, Right Time’ presents an opportunity to address the safe staffing level crisis. This approach would provide staff with a chance to upskill and focus on duties and responsibilities which are cognisant of their qualification standards and professional registration.” SIPTU Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Lessons must be learned from the existing failed model of service delivery if the prescribed future for healthcare in our country is to succeed. We must further enshrine the concept of multi-grade team-based working which ensures the allocation of duties are assigned to the most appropriate person, at the right time, in the right place.” At the committee, deep concern was expressed by SIPTU representatives at the slow pace of progress concerning the necessary funding and supports for the advancement of SláinteCare. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Marie Butler said: “In our opinion, token funding is being afforded to this project to convey the optic that implementation is proceeding. Only €20 million per year has been earmarked by the HSE and government departments to date. The identified funding required for the roll out of SláinteCare will be approximately €680million per year.”