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Dublin: 19 °C Friday 29 May, 2020

HSE spend on agency staff in mental health services rose €38m in last four years

Close to €13 million was spent in the first three months of this year on agency staff.

Image: Shutterstock/EM Karuna

THE HSE’S SPENDING on agency staff in mental health services has risen by over €38 million in the last four years.

Figures released to Fianna Fáíl’s Mental Health spokesperson James Browne have shown that in 2013 the HSE spent €14.3 million on agency staff while in 2017 the spending increased to €52.9 million. 

Agency staff are used when there is difficulty in recruiting and employing hospital staff and where there is a short-term critical service need.

In the first three months of this year, the health service spent almost €13 million on agency staff in the mental health sector.

PastedImage-97914 Source: HSE

Brown has said that the Government’s pledge to reduce dependency on agency nursing staff must be honoured and that the money being spent by the HSE is a “desperate bid to temporarily plug the gaps in services”.

“Mental health agency expenditure amounted to more than 5% of the overall budget for mental health last year.

“In simpler terms, the total amount spent was three times the €15 million in new spending announced in 2017 for mental health. This, of course, is a recurring story.

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“Aside from the fact that it would be better value for money and more responsible spending of public monies, it will give those requiring mental health services the extra benefit of being able to build a relationship with a full-time care provider and not a temporary stand-in,” Browne said in a statement. 

In response to the figures the HSE said:

This expenditure should be considered in the overall context including increasing demand for services; the impact of earlier constraints on recruitment in the public service; ongoing challenges in relation to the recruitment and retention of clinical staff.

The health service added that agency pay cost is under constant review.

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