Midlands Regional Hospital, Tullamore
The Midland Regional Hospitals in Tullamore and Portlaoise spent a combined €19 million on agency staff in 2018, new figures have revealed.
The figures show that Portlaoise Hospital had the second highest spend on agency staff with €10.8m in 2018 while Tullamore had the fifth highest spend with €8.2m.
Portlaoise was pipped by University Hospital Limerick which had the largest spend. "This is despite the fact that hospitals in Dublin and other cities have workforces that are many times larger than either Portlaoise or Tullamore," Laois TD and future Laois/Offaly election candidate Brian Stanley said.
"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."
“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 today," Stanley added.
"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," the Sinn Féin deputy concluded.