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HSE's €318 million spend on agency staff in 2018 described as 'sickening waste of money'

An extra €26 million was spent on agency staff in 2018, compared to 2017.

Image: Shutterstock/Kiselev Andrey Valerevich

THE HSE SPENT a total of €318 million on temporary agency staff last year, an increase of €26 million on 2017, new figures have revealed.

Some hospitals spend far more on agency staff than others, with University Hospital Limerick and Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise spending over €10 million in 2018.

The spending on agency staff in the past decade has more than doubled, and the increase last year was the largest since 2014.

Out of this €318 million spend, €76 million was spent on agency nurses, up from €64 million in 2017.

Almost €152 million of the agency spend was in the acute hospitals division, while over €166 million was spent in community health organisations.

The figures were released to Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly via a parliamentary question, and she described the spending as a “sickening waste of money”.

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“This spending is without doubt one of the greatest wastes of money, not only in the health service, but in the whole state,” she said.

The over-reliance on the use of costly and more expensive agency staff is a direct result of the escalation of the recruitment and retention crisis under this government.
Agency staff were originally intended to plug temporary / short term gaps in rosters but these figures prove that far from temporary there is now a reliance on agency staff.

She added that Minister for Health Simon Harris should be held responsible for the health service “haemorrhaging nearly a million euro a day in temporary agency staff”.

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Sean Murray

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