There was a 15% increase in people under the age of 50 leaving the HSE last year.
New freedom of information figures released to Newstalk show that over 6,200 staff under the age of 50 resigned or retired last year.
- 2,173 people under 30 quit last year - up 39 on the year before.
- 2,368 people aged between 30 and 40 left - up 436.
- 1,675 people aged between 40 and 50 resigned or retired - an increase of 326.
In all, 10,162 HSE staff resigned or retired – up significantly on 2020, when a total of 7,413 staff left the organisation.
That marks a 37% increase between 2020 and 2022.
Sinn Fein's health spokesman David Cullinane told Newstalk that poor working conditions are forcing people out of the health service.
“Burnout is certainly one of the issues,” he said.
“We also know that we have very high levels of assaults recorded against frontline healthcare workers – particularly nurses.
“We heard that at the Oireachtas health committee a number of weeks ago first-hand from healthcare trade unions and from nurses who are on the receiving end of verbal assaults.
“We know many are also on the receiving end of physical assaults.”
Recruitment and retention
Deputy Cullinane said there are several factors at play.
“The healthcare trade unions have been saying this for some time,” he said. “That the level of stress, the level of burnout and the type of working environment - which is really pressurised in hospitals at the moment - is obviously lending itself to difficulties in retaining staff.
“Some are opting to emigrate; some are opting to go to the private sector.”
In a statement, the HSE said staff choose to leave the health system for a “variety of reasons” and noted that its annual staff turnover is between 6% and 7%.
It said many staff would have achieved their full service with the HSE before reaching the age of 65.
Meanwhile, the number of people directly employed by the HSE has increased by just short of 18,000 in the last three years.