Fine Gael Mayo Deputy John O’Mahony today (Thursday) published new figures showing the HSE spent €5,693,471 on agency staff in Cork Hospitals last year. The Fine Gael Health Spokesperson & Deputy Leader, Dr James Reilly TD said the ‘incredibly high spend exposes false economies in health service budgeting’.
Deputy John O’Mahony said:
“These figures are showing that the spending on agency staff, like temporary nursing staff and locums, is €5,693,471 in Cork. They spent €4,835,454 in Cork University Hospital; €237,722 in Bantry General; €378,878 in Mercy University Hospital; €160,995 in South Infirmary – Victoria Hospital and €80,422 in Mallow General Hospital. This figure is approaching €100 million in all the hospitals around the country. It is clear that the recruitment ban the HSE has in place is keeping the spend on agency staff excessively high. How can this make sense when it stands to reason agency staff are more expensive?
“Agency staff spending is an area that is earmarked savings under the Croke Park agreement and these figures clearly show that has to happen. This should be a priority, rather than the constant cutbacks to patients’ front line services we are witnessing on a daily basis.”
Dr James Reilly TD said:
“It is believed that agency staff cost hospitals more than 36% than directly employing workers. While it may not be possible to cut the agency staff bill down to nothing, this suggests tens of millions of euro could be saved by addressing the issue. The incredibly high spend in 2009 exposes false economies in health service budgeting. There are seriously inefficient practices that need to be addressed. For example, it was recently reported that a HSE internal audit showed nurses on career breaks returning to work as agency nurses with additional costs. It also shows that the agency staff bill entails between €22.5 and €37.5 million in fees and commission to recruitment companies. These kinds of costs must be reduced before the health service goes anywhere near front line services. They must be accompanied by serious efforts to tackle absenteeism which, according to the new Chair of the HSE Board, would save €100 million if halved.”