MEP Jim Higgins has questioned the recent rehiring of retired staff by the HSE.
“At a time of 14.5 per cent unemployment, one might wonder how such a practice could possibly be justified – well, it can't,” he said. “Despite reassurances that new guidelines had been adopted the latest HSE budget figures provide sobering evidence that the ‘retire rehire practice’ is still going strong in our health service.
“As a nation we simply cannot afford to pay both salaries and pensions to some 686 retired working individuals, while also paying social welfare to 686 people who might have a job if not for the clogging of the HSE with retired staff.
“For every person made unemployed, the Exchequer loses at least €20,000 a year in social welfare payments and tax forgone, for 686 people you're looking at an outrageous €13,720,000.
“I have been very vocal in my criticism of the HSE policy of re-employing retired staff. This practice is grossly unfair and smacks of cronyism among old colleagues.
“Many young graduates with fresh ideas are forced to emigrate, stack shelves, or join the dole queue as retired HSE staff, already in receipt of State pensions, clean up.
“The State has invested hugely in the education and cultivation of top class graduates, they need to be given a chance to shine.
“I have contacted the HSE calling for quarterly updates on the situation, this is especially pertinent for 2012 given the mass retirements ahead of the pension changes last February.
“This practice needs to be urgently stamped out.”