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Hospital agency staff spend almost doubled under FG/Labour – Ó Caoláin

16 November, 2015 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, has criticised the government over the huge increase in the cost of agency staff which shows an increase of more than €100m in 2014 on the 2011 spend.

Deputy Ó Caoláin was responding to the HSE reply to a Sinn Féin Parliamentary Question on agency staff costs which revealed that the annual spend on agency staff has increased by €103,675,000 from 2011 to 2014.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said.

“Due to the moratorium on recruitment and promotions across the public sector, there has been a huge reduction in staffing levels – there are two thousand less nurses for example since Fine Gael and Labour took office. The HSE has as a result become increasingly reliant on costly agency staff, resulting in an additional annual spend of €103 million from 2011 – 2014.

“There have been restrictions on the recruitment of permanent staff members by the HSE and as such, positions within the health service have had to be filled via the use of costly agency staff. As a result our hospitals have been crippled by spiralling wage costs and chronic understaffing.  

“The reliance on agency staff has also increased as a consequence of rigid employment control measures, which has seen hospitals having to comply with employment ceilings and staffing targets.

“Despite Government claims that the control framework on employment has helped to deliver a more effective and efficient public service overall - they have merely decimated frontline services and have forced highly skilled and experienced nurses and doctors to seek work abroad. 

“The enormity of the spend on agency staff can be contrasted with the pitiful investment in alleviating chronic overcrowding in our hospitals, which has reached record levels in A&E’s across the country. The government must take responsibility for their decisions and examine the consequences of their policy. This situation is at crisis level and threatens to get worse as a cold winter looms.”

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