Friday 31 March 2017

HSE spent nearly half its €226m agency staff budget for the whole of 2016 by the end of April

Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers
Fianna Fáil TD Jack Chambers
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

MAJOR concern for patient care has emerged as new figures reveal the huge reliance on agency staff to maintain services.

The HSE spent nearly half its €226m agency staff budget for the whole of 2016 by the end of April, figures obtained by Fianna Fail Dublin West TD Jack Chambers revealed.

He warned that relying on agency staff to fill the gaps is not serving the best interests of patients.

“Filling staff vacancies must be made a priority for senior managers and Minister for Health Simon Harris must ensure that this is done in a timely manner.

“Not only would this lead to better continuity for patients and staff, it would cut down on agency costs. 

“Until this issue is properly addressed, we are unlikely to see these substantial agency charges reduced”.

He said that overall the figures  make for “worrying reading” and mean the HSE could see its  budget for agency staff spiral out of control before the end of the year.”

In response the HSE said that use of agency staff is closely monitored and only used  when “strictly necessary” to avoid service disruption.

Around 95pc of staff costs relate to directly employed staff and the largest element of the extra cost for agency staff is the 23pc in VAT which goes to the exchequer.

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