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Deadline is extended on 'yellow pack' nursing plan

NURSING groups say the HSE move to extend the graduate scheme deadline exposes it as an attempt to introduce "yellow pack nursing posts" into our health service.

The HSE has outlined plans to extend the closing date for its controversial scheme by a further two weeks due to a "slower than anticipated" rate of applications.

In addition, graduate nurses from 2010 and 2011 will also now be entitled to apply.

Nursing graduates are being offered 1,000 short term positions at 20pc less pay than those hired last year.

The new starting rate is €22,000 compared to the current €26,400.

Liam Doran, general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said that the "flawed 'cut price' nurse graduate programme" is being boycotted.

He said that nurses agree that it was simply was an attempt to hire "cheap labour".

"The HSE decision confirms that this was never an educational programme, but was always an attempt to introduce cut price, yellow pack nursing posts into our health service.

"The HSE are desperately trying to rectify the error of their ways by pushing out the date.

"But the boycott call will remain in place for whatever application period the HSE lays down," he added.

Mr Doran said that there is little chance that graduate nurses from overseas will rush to apply for this scheme.

"I can't see the logic in that argument -- they will not apply at €22,000 when their colleagues from last year are on the proper salary," he said.

The deadline date has now been pushed out to February 1.

The HSE said that the 1,000 posts are not additional positions, but will replace the requirement for overtime and use of agency nurses.

The INMO and the HSE have been locked in talks since 9.30 this morning, where Mr Doran said he would raise the issue of the nursing graduate scheme and seek clarification on the numbers that have applied.

The HSE was unavailable for comment at the time of going to print.