CORK University Hospital (CUH) spent €6 million on agency staff in 2017, it has been revealed.
Figures released to Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly by the HSE show that every day last year the HSE spent approximately €800,501 on costly agency and locum doctors, nurses, and other staff in order to fill posts across Ireland left vacant due to the recruitment and retention crisis.
“Spending such a colossal amount of money on agency and locum staff constitutes a financial waste by the State because they are much more expensive than directly employed staff,” said Cork South Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire.
“The over-reliance 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 — around €287,739 every single day.
“Indeed, that figure has doubled since 2011 when the spend on agency doctors was €54 million.”
1,400 nurses resigned from the HSE in 2017, a workforce that has already been depleted by 2,000 since 2007.
According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) less than half of the required nurses to care for the increase in patients admitted to Emergency Departments across Ireland have been recruited.
The government has failed to address vacant posts and the current recruitment and retention crisis, according to Deputy O’Laoghaire.
“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,” he said.
“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 be wasted on agency staff.”