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HSE West absenteeism "costs €60 million a year"

The high rate of absenteeism by staff at the HSE has been criticised today. It emerged that the cost of absenteeism to HSE West is around €60 million annually.

Image: John Birdsall/John Birdsall/Press Association Images

ONE IN TWENTY employees of the Health Service Executive West do not show up for work each day – and it is costing the State millions of euro.

The scale of absenteeism at the HSE West emerged during a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee yesterday – and they are on the rise, coming in at 5 per cent, with that figure replicated nationally at 4.7 per cent.

The worst hospital for absenteeism is Ennis General Hospital in Co Clare. There, the absentee level stands at 9.43 per cent.

Today, Fine Gael Wicklow Deputy and member of PAC, Simon Harris, said it is completely unacceptable that the absentee figures are this high.

HSE Chief Executive, Cathal Magee, confirmed today at PAC, under questioning by me,  that the absentee figures for HSE West are worsening and that 1 in 20 employees each day are not showing up for work. This figure is reported to be significantly higher among support staff, compared with medical staff.
While the figures nationally for the HSE are improving, dropping from 7 per cent a few years ago to 4.7 per cent now, this is still completely unacceptable.

He said that this is clearly a management issue which needs to be addressed.

If the cost of absenteeism to HSE West is estimated to be in the region of €60 million annually, the cost to the Exchequer when all regions are considered must run into hundreds of million of euro.

Deputy Harris noted that the Irish health service “is under serious pressure and continues to account for a considerable portion of State funding”.

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He said it is vital that HSE management “get to grips with what is going on here and demonstrate exactly how they plan to bring these figures down”.

He has requested to receive all data pertaining to absenteeism in the HSE and for a regional, monthly breakdown of the figures.

I will, through PAC, be pursuing this matter further in the hope of finding a resolution.

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