THE Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore is facing drastic cuts to staffing levels from September with the HSE due to slash the use of agency staff and overtime.
Deputy Barry Cowen has learned that local HSE management have been ordered to cut overtime and agency staff hours by 50% from September. The requirement is contained in the HSE Service Plan which was signed off by the Health Minister James Reilly earlier this year.
The Fianna Fáil TD has raised concern that such drastic and sudden cuts in staffing levels will put severe pressure on frontline services at the hospital.
“The HSE is far too reliant on agency staff and overtime to cover huge gaps in front-line staffing as a result of the Government’s woeful mismanagement of the public service retirement scheme. But to make such dramatic cuts while the ban on recruitment remains in place is extremely dangerous,” said Deputy Cowen.
“Local HSE management have been working extremely hard at cutting the bill for overtime and agency staff over the past number of months. While this is a welcome development, the reality is that agency workers have been covering the huge gaps in essential staffing levels following the retirement scheme earlier this year. How will these gaps be covered coming into the busy winter period if the Minister insists on maintaining his recruitment ban while making further drastic cuts to agency staff and overtime?
“It is no secret that the Minister has made a complete mess of this year’s health budget. He ignored the warnings from the HSE Chief Executive Cathal Magee for months on end and has misled the public about the extent of the budget crisis. But his mistakes cannot be fixed bulldozing through to frontline services in our local hospitals. To put patients at risk in this way is highly irresponsible.
“I am calling on the Minister to outline how he expects to maintain services at the Midland Regional Hospital in Tullamore in the coming months. The news of these imminent cuts will cause distress to many patients and their families across Offaly and the Midlands. They deserve some answers from Minister Reilly.”