FIRMS who supply agency staff to the Health Service Executive saw their income soar last year.
The supply of staff for hospitals and other parts of the service is now confined to a small number of firms who successfully tendered for the work.
The HSE is trying to slash its agency bill -- but this will have a major impact on services, including the closure of beds. The public service moratorium and retirement has left it heavily reliant on agency workers.
But this has meant a financial boost for firms which supply the stand-ins.
They include Dublin-based CPL which received €29.26m last year -- almost double what it got in 2010.
Nurse on Call Ltd got €26.8m -- up from €16.9m in 2010. And Global Medics received €22m -- up from €15m in 2010.
Locum Express received €17.7m -- more than double its €7.7m HSE income in 2010. TTM Healthcare received €8.6m -- it got €6.9m in 2010.
The top five firms received an aggregate €105.2m -- it was €62.4m in 2010.
The HSE's overall agency staff bill rose by 15pc last year to €176.5m.
HSE National Director Laverne McGuinness recently wrote to regional bosses saying there needed to be "a near zero tolerance" to the use of agency staff in the coming months.
Meanwhile, patients are to suffer widespread bed closures in hospitals in the northeast as managers impose drastic staff cuts, it was confirmed yesterday.
The cuts in agency staff and overtime at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda and Navan Hospital have been ordered as the the region faces a huge deficit.
The HSE confirmed that overtime was being banned for all staff except junior doctors from September 1. A cut of at least 50pc in agency staff will come into force on October 1.
The use of all agency staff is to stop from December 1. The equivalent of around 75 nursing jobs will be cut as a result of the cuts, unions warned.