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HSE must stop relying on expensive agency staff - Kenny

5 August, 2016 - by Martin Kenny TD

Speaking on the publication of the report of an unannounced inspection by HIQA of Sligo General Hospital, Sinn Féin TD, Martin Kenny welcomed the efforts made by hospital staff to ensure that staffing and infrastructure deficiencies do not affect patient care. Deputy Kenny has queried why the HSE resorts to paying expensive agency fees while newly-qualified graduates head for the airport.

Deputy Kenny said:

“There are still problems in the hospital and it is clear that some of them arise from deficiencies in infrastructure along with staff being rushed and under pressure due to understaffing. It raises again the question of recruitment of nurses, medical staff and health care assistants in our hospitals.

“Today we hear the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation telling us that although British and US recruiters are here to source newly-graduated Irish nurses, the HSE persists in using agency staff while our brightest and best emigrate to find permanent work.

“It seems that over €22,000,000 was spent by the HSE on agency nurses in the first six months of this year, while hospitals are forbidden to recruit nurses if they are over budget.

“The economic thinking behind this is hard to fathom when agency fees and VAT amount to 30% of the cost and, according the nurses’ representatives, 646 nurses could have been employed by the HSE for that money.

“For years the HSE has been asked to explain why it resorts to paying agency fees not just for nurses but for other medical and care staff while our newly-qualified graduates head for the airport.”

“In my own constituency there is a similar issue with the HSE dragging its feet on recruitment of speech and language therapists and occupational therapists despite the assurances of an Tánaiste, Frances Fitzgerald that funding was available for this very purpose.”

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