Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has this morning branded the HSE spending nearly €1 million a day on agency staff as outrageous, saying it is a direct result of the failures of the HSE and the government to address the recruitment and retention crisis.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Figures release to by the HSE show that every day last year the HSE spent approximately €800,501 on costly agency and locum doctors, nurses, and other staff in order to fill posts left vacant due to the recruitment and retention crisis.
“The over-reliance on the use of costly and more expensive agency staff is a direct result of the recruitment and retention crisis and has escalated under this Fine Gael government with the total amount spent on agency staff rising from €158 million in 2011 to €293 million last year.
“Last year the State spent €105 million on agency doctors – around €287,739 every single day. Indeed, that figure has doubled since 2011 when the spend on agency doctors was €54 million.
“Some hospitals dependency on agency staff is enormous – for instance last year Letterkenny University Hospital spent over €9 million on agency doctors while the Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise spent €8 million.
“Similarly, nursing is also suffering from a recruitment and retention crisis and many hospitals are dependent on costly agency nursing staff with the State spending over €64 million on agency nurses last year.
“A breakdown of the figures reveals just how significant the dependency on agency nurses is in some hospitals. Last year Connolly Memorial Hospital spent €2 million on agency nurses, Cork University Hospital spent nearly €3 million, while Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda spent €2.3 million.
“Spending such a colossal amount of money on agency and locum staff constitutes a financial waste by the State because they are much more expensive than directly employed staff.
“However, the reason hospitals have to rely on this staffing mechanism to fill vacant posts is because the HSE and the government have failed to address the recruitment and retention crisis.
“Health service staff and their unions have consistently reported working conditions, facilities, supports, training opportunities and pay as the cause of the recruitment and retention crisis, and until these issues are addressed the crisis will continue and these staggering sums of money will be wasted on agency staff.”