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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”.

“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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