Hospitals save on overtime as bill to hit €200m
THE hospital overtime bill in the health service will reach €200m this year.
A total of €551,000 is being spent every day on overtime wages for members of staff in all the hospitals.
Figures obtained by the Irish Independent show that a total of €167.8m has been spent by the Health Service Executive (HSE) up until the end of October, which, based on average monthly figures, may rise to more than €200m by December 31.
However, health chiefs have managed to cut the bill from €248.2m in 2008 and €225.8m last year.
A breakdown of this year's figures show that some hospitals have achieved significant savings, with some cutting millions from their annual bill.
But others have found it more difficult to cut costs.
Costs have risen this year at St Luke's Hospital in Dublin, and it is likely to spend €100,000 more on overtime when compared with last year's spend of almost €1.2m.
However St James's and St Vincent's Hospitals in Dublin managed to cut their payments from over €16m each in 2008 to €13.5 last year. It is expected they will shave €1m each from this cost by the end of December.
Tullamore Hospital in Co Offaly saw its costs rise last year to €3.3m -- but to date this year they have only spent €2.01m, a significant drop.
A spokeswoman for the HSE said that the figures reflected the impact the government moratorium on recruitment was having on staff numbers.
"There have been reductions in head count and staff numbers since the moratorium commenced and where there is a validated clinical need, that criteria is applied in using agency staff on an as needed basis," she said.
She said there would be an ongoing need for agency staff.
"It is important that when engaging with agencies that the HSE can be sure of the quality of staff provided and ensure that best value for money is being achieved," she said.
"We also have a national shortage of NCHD's (junior doctors) and have a requirement to replace the vacancies with agency/locum cover.
"It is only through formal contracting arrangements that these objectives will be achieved."
The figures do not take into account the other additional income frontline staff receive in allowances and premium pay, such as shift allowances.
The HSE's funding is due to be cut by €746m next year.