Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has described the “dependency of the HSE on agency staff in the Louth area as symptomatic of a health service in perpetual crisis because of the government’s failed health policies.”
Teachta Adams said: “The chaos within the cervical check system, the numbers of women now waiting up to seven months for the result of smear tests; the overspend in the construction of the National Children’s Hospital; the numbers of citizens on hospital trolleys, and the waste of taxpayers money on agency staff, are just some examples of the failure of policy on this government’s watch.”
Gerry Adams added: “Last year saw the single biggest increase in agency spending in the last five years. Since 2011 Fine Gael have spent almost €2bn on temporary agency staff to fill staffing gaps because they have continuously failed to address the recruitment and retention crisis. Agency staff were supposed to be a temporary fix to a staffing problem but it is now a fixed policy with escalating costs each year which impact on funding for other health services.
The failure of the government to address the recruitment and retention crisis around nurses has left hospitals with huge gaps in nursing staff that is being filled by agency staff who cost significantly more.
Louth County Hospital spent over a million-euro last year on agency staff. Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda spent over €9million of agency staff.
Louth is part of CHO area 8 (Community Health Organisation) which provide community healthcare services outside of acute hospitals. These include primary care, social care, mental health, and other health and well-being services. According to a Parliamentary response CHO 8 has seen the cost of agency staff escalate over the last 8 years from €13 million in 2011 to €32.5-million-euro last year.
“The government is responsible for this mess. It is its policies which have created the ongoing multiple crises with the health services. Spending €318-million-euro last year on agency staff is not the answer.”