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“HSE spent €1.3 Billion on Agency Staff over 4 years,” McGrath

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the €1.3 Billion cost to the HSE for providing agency staff to cover essential frontline and senior positions over the last four years as absolutely staggering. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the information was released to him through Parliamentary Questions to the Minister for Health Leo Varadkar:

“The amount spent by the HSE on Agency Expenditure is in the first instance a damning indictment of the inability of this Government to attract and retain the required number of permanent frontline staff.

It also points to the ongoing systemic failures of the HSE to adequately address the high levels of absenteeism from the service which in itself is a symptom of the unbearable stress that HSE staff has been subjected too over the lifetime of this government.

For 2015 it is projected that the HSE will have spent €333 million on agency staff which is only marginally down from the 2014 bill of €340 million. In 2013 the cost was €259 million, in 2012 it was €214 million and in 2011 it was €219 million

The enormity of these costs and the fact that nothing is really being done to tackle them in any kind of meaningful way speaks volumes about the drift into full blown crisis which has occurred under both the previous Minister for Health and Minister Varadkar.

An analysis of the evidence available to me shows that these figures can be reduced by up to €36 million if hospitals can bring their absenteeism rates under control.

The fact that that figure represents €10 million more than the total mental health budget provided by this government should put that into some kind of perspective ” concluded Deputy McGrath.