Over €5m spent in 2017 on hospital agency staff in Sligo
Over €5 million was spent on agency staff at Sligo University Hospital last year to deal with the recruitment and retention crisis in the health service, according to Sinn Féin councillor, Cllr Chris MacManus.
He said:"Figures release by the HSE to my colleague Louise O'Reilly TD have shown that every day last year the HSE spent approximately nearly €1 million on costly agency and locum doctors, nurses, and other staff in order to fill posts left vacant due to the recruitment and retention crisis.
"The overreliance on the use of costly and more expensive agency staff is a direct result of the recruitment and retention crisis and has escalated under this Fine Gael government with the total amount spent on agency staff rising from €158 million in 2011 to €293 million last year.
"Last year, the State spent €105 million on agency doctors - this situation was replicated in Sligo University Hospital where €5.3 million was spent on temporary agency staff last year.
"This is a huge amount of money to be spent on temporary agency staff who are more expensive than directly employed staff and it is no doubt severely depleting the health budget.
"Similarly, nursing is also suffering from a recruitment and retention crisis and many hospitals are dependent on costly agency nursing staff with the State spending over €64 million on agency nurses last year.
"A breakdown of the figures reveals just how significant the dependency on agency nurses was in Sligo University Hospital last year.
"Over the course of 2017 Sligo University Hospital spent a total of €3.6 million on temporary agency nurses.
"Spending such a colossal amount of money on agency and locum staff constitutes a financial waste to the State because they are much more expensive than directly employed staff.
"These agency staff provide a necessary function, no one is doubting that, however, the reason hospitals have to rely on this staffing mechanism to fill vacant posts is because the HSE and the government have failed to address the recruitment and retention crisis.
"Health service staff and their unions have consistently reported working conditions, facilities, supports, training opportunities and pay as the cause of the recruitment and retention crisis, and until these issues are addressed the crisis will continue and these staggering sums of money will continue to be spend on temporary agency staff at Sligo University Hospital and across the State."