Legislation could allow medical staff to defer retirement

If passed in the Seanad, it will allow allow critical health professionals to remain in their roles past the current retirement

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File photo. Image: Andrew Matthews / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Legislation to allow key health professionals defer their retirement from the public health service is to be voted on by the Seanad.

Extensive amendments have been tabled to the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill by Fianna Fáil Senator Dr Keith Swanick, which are designed to allow key health professionals postpone their retirement under mutual agreement with their respective employers.

The new rules, if passed, would apply to key nursing, medical and consultant personnel within the Health Service, including organisations funded directly by the HSE, the Department of Health and all the major health service providers.

Essentially, it would allow the Minister for Health to introduce regulations to allow critical health professionals remain in their roles past the current retirement.

According to Senator Swanick: "Our health system is suffering from a severe staff shortage, which is impacting on services and patient outcomes and this Government needs to start looking seriously at options to address this.  The Irish Medical Organisation claims that there are over 250 unfilled consultant posts in Ireland, while a quarter of advertised consultant posts received no applications at all.

'Damaging'

Senator Swanick continued by calling the mandatory age based retirement was "damaging to society".

"It is widely accepted that by retaining certain older professionals within the health system, clinical outcomes are improved through the retention of experience, knowledge and mentoring capacity. In the fast paced world of the medicine, it is crucial to have the appropriate blend of experience and youth working side by side.

"This legislation will not affect the option for an employee to retire – all health professionals will be able to retire at the age stipulated in their employment contract. Nobody will be required to work past their retirement age, unless they wish to do so, and this is a hugely important provision.

"Everyone should have the right to retire, but equally people should have the right to continue to work past the arbitrary retirement age, if they see fit."