Pay equality for staff key to tackling recruitment and retention within the HSE – Mary Lou McDonald TD
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has told An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the Government must work with unions to achieve full pay equality for nurses and midwives, with an implementation plan to deliver pay equality within a short timeframe.
Deputy McDonald was speaking in response to news that the HSE is spending nearly €1 million a day on temporary agency staff.
Speaking at Leaders’ Questions today, Deputy McDonald said;
“Taoiseach, figures released to my colleague Teachta Louise O’Reilly last week show that every day last year in 2017, the HSE spent over €800,000 on agency doctors, nurses and other staff to fill positions that have been left vacant.
“That is close to €300 million for the year as a whole. That is a colossal amount of money to be spent on the hiring of temporary staff, which we all know is much more expensive than directly employing personnel and is severely depleting the health budget.
“These agency staff provide a necessary function Taoiseach - no one is doubting that - but the reason hospitals are reduced to relying on costly agency staff is because your government and the HSE have failed to address the recruitment and retention crisis.
“That figure has doubled since Fine Gael came to office in 2011.
“It is not just bad for workers, it is bad for patients because the reliance on agency staff prevents continuity of care - you don't have the consistency or value for money that you have with directly employed staff.
“Health service staff and their unions have consistently reported working conditions, facilities, supports, training opportunities and pay as the cause of the crisis.
“Taoiseach, will you commit to getting a fair deal for our nurses and other health professionals ?
“Until these issues are addressed, that is going to continue and these staggering sums of money are going to continue to be wasted on agency staff.”