The HSE spent €8.2m on agency staff for Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore last year.
That's according to new figures obtained by Sinn Fein from the HSE that show that Tullamore hospital had the fifth highest spend on agency staff last year, while Portlaoise hospital had the second highest spend (€10.8m).
The overall figure spent on Agency Staff in the state in 2018 was €318m, over €6.5m per day on temporary staff. This figure has more than doubled from €151m in 2012, with the increase in last year alone at over €26m.
Deputy Brian Stanley says that the figures show that there is an over reliance on agency staff to fill the labour gaps in the health system
“I have constantly highlighted the fact that Portlaoise is over reliant on agency staff due to uncertainty around the future of services at the hospital as it reduces the level of interest in seeking employment there. I raised this matter directly with the Tánaiste Simon Coveney TD.
“The other issue here is the delay by the HSE and the government in converting agency staff to full-time HSE employees. No regard is given to the fact that agency staff are far more expensive per head than HSE employees. These points were brought to the fore recently by the nursing unions during the strike action. This is one area of huge waste in our health system, and savings from this could be used to employ more badly needed permanent frontline staff.
“Our over reliance on agency staff is bad for patients, bad for consistency in services and bad for the taxpayer. We need to plan and organise our health service on a sustainable basis, not in the ad hoc chaotic way it is currently run,” Deputy Stanley concluded.