Mayo University Hospital (MUH) currently has 65 vacant posts, including 29 nursing positions, it was revealed at a health forum meeting in Galway last week.
The hospital also has 11 unfilled positions for health and social care professionals and 13 vacancies in management and administration.
The figures emerged after it was revealed that only 45% of student nurses and midwives graduating this year were awarded full-time contracts at MUH. While 12 graduates were hired, 13 general nurses left the hospital this year.
Several councillors at the forum noted that hospitals are not following a commitment made by the Minister for Health Simon Harris in February 2018 to offer every graduate nurse and midwife a “full-time and permanent job”.
Chief Officer of Community Healthcare West, Tony Canavan, countered these accusations by explaining that hospitals are told to “work within [their] means”.
A nationwide recruitment freeze across hospitals with overrunning budgets has been in place since the beginning of last April.
Cathaoirleach of Castlebar Municipal District, Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, said it was “incredibly frustrating” to hear of such a high vacancy rate when graduate nurses are struggling to get jobs. The Independent councillor had submitted a question to the HSE West forum on the matter after a number of graduate nurses approached him with concerns they were not being hired.
“The fact is the Minister for Health actually told these nurses they would be hired when they graduated, but then he introduced an embargo earlier this year,” Cllr Kilcoyne told the Western People. “The HSE spend millions of euro travelling around the world asking nurses to come back and work in Ireland. These nurses graduating in Ireland will end up emigrating instead.”
Cllr Kilcoyne added that UK hospitals are offering Irish nurses enticing packages.
“When there are vacant posts at Mayo University Hospital people suffer because they cannot get places in the hospital.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that the Minister’s position “has not changed” and “every graduate nurse and midwife should be offered a position in the Irish health service”.
However, this must be done in the context of the overall HSE recruitment budget. The spokeswoman said hospitals are “making every effort to retain graduate nurses”.