AOTI Releases Statement on HSE Panels Controversy

HSE Panel System of Recruitment Not Fit for Purpose

30th November 2019

The Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland (AOTI) today expressed its concern about the current panel system of recruitment being used by the HSE to recruit occupational therapists and other health and social care professionals. AOTI called on the HSE to overhaul the system as it is not fit for purpose due to delayed recruitment and difficulty recruiting the right candidate for individual services, all of which impact on the quality of care for service users.

“The staff grade and senior occupational therapist panels, which were formed after interviews in 2016, were this week disbanded by the HSE.  Our understanding is that the HSE has no current plans to interview occupational therapists for new panels or to put a new recruitment system in place. This has caused great frustration among our members and does not make sense against a backdrop of Occupational Therapy vacancies in HSE services”, said Mary McGrath, AOTI Chairperson.

“The panel system was introduced a number of years ago by the HSE and since its inception our members have repeatedly expressed dissatisfaction with it. AOTI believes that the panel system should be disbanded and replaced with a more effective and fair system of recruitment. Occupational Therapy Managers should have a say in which staff secure a job in their department and this is currently not the case”, continued McGrath.

“This current system of recruitment is affecting HSE service users as waiting lists are increasing due to delays in filling Occupational Therapy posts. Also vacant posts are being filled by agency staff which results in extra expense for the HSE. A better and more efficient system is needed, concluded McGrath”.

AOTI called on the HSE to meet with its representatives to address their members’ concerns about HSE recruitment and as an interim measure to reinstate the 2016 panels.


Note for Editors

Occupational Therapy vacancies in the HSE are filled from panels which typically are live for 3 years. To form these panels, the HSE carries out large scale interviews and successful candidates are placed on a panel. The candidate who obtains first place on the panel is the first candidate considered for a position. The Manager of the service where the vacancy arises has no say in the selection of staff and must accept the person at the top of the panel that accepts a vacancy offered to them by the HSE.

A HSE staff member who wishes to progress in their career can only do so by interviewing to be placed on a panel rather than apply for a specific role or service they are interested in. A HSE staff member who wishes to relocate cannot apply to a service directly but instead must interview for a panel and hope they offered a post in the part of the country where they wish to transfer to. A HSE staff member who engages in further education or training will receive no credit for this while they are on a panel.

The disbandment of the HSE staff grade and senior occupational therapist panels this week, and the absence of a plan for further interviews for occupational therapist, means that the very many professionals who were on the 2016 panels will have no way of securing employment in the HSE or of advancing their career in the HSE if they currently work there. It also means that occupational therapists working in a temporary capacity in HSE roles will not be eligible for their own positions in the event the role is to be filled permanently. 


For more information, please contact Odhrán Allen, AOTI spokesperson, on 0871696926.



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