Speaking this morning Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has said that HSE spending on agency staff across the health service is out of control for 2019. This is especially true in Louth where both Louth County Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda are expected to spend significantly more this year on agency staff than last year.
Gerry Adams said: “In the first five months of this year the failure of the HSE and government to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis has seen more money than ever – €135 million – spent on agency staff. That is a spend of €900,000 a day on agency staff in hospitals and community healthcare organisations.
Last year €318 million was spent on agency staff. If the current spend is maintained the figure for this year will be close to €330 million.
Louth County Hospital spent €1.14 million last year on agency staff. In the first five months of this year that figure was just over half a million euro. If this spend is maintained for the remainder of the year agency costs at Louth County Hospital will be €1.245 million.
The HSE and government dependence on agency staff to fill the gaps created by the recruitment and retention crisis in our hospital and Community Health Organisations is bad policy and is not value for money. Since Fine Gael came to government in 2011 the health service has spent over €2.1 billion on temporary agency staff.
If the government properly addressed the recruitment and retention crisis within our acute hospitals and Community Health Organisations we would have a more fficent cost effective service.
There can be no doubt that the recruitment embargo on full time staff is clearly causing an increase in agency spending”.
Louth Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams has met with the chief executive and staff of the Loughs Agency along with Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú and Matt Carthy MEP.
The meeting, which took place in Carlingford on Friday 27th July, had a number of objectives as Deputy Adams outlines;
“The Loughs Agency was established in 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
“It is a cross border body with a remit for the promotion and development of Lough Foyle and lands surrounding it in Donegal and Derry and for Carlingford Lough and it’s hinterland in Louth and Down.
“The remit of the Loughs Agency is the development of these areas in terms of marine aquaculture, conservation and promotion and I was heartened to hear of the team of scientists who monitor and manage fish stocks in the Loughs.
“The Loughs Agency has identified the challenges and opportunities which Brexit has presented for them and I have pledged to work with the Loughs Agency to assist in the development of the agency. ‘
Sinn Féin Louth Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú added;
“The Loughs Agency Chief Executive has indicated issues with office premises and storage facilities in the Carlingford area.
“I have committed to raising this with Louth County Council to find appropriate space in the Peninsula to enable the Agency to develop to its full potential in Louth and promote this county as much as possible.”
Sinn Fein Louth TD Gerry Adams has accused the government and the HSE of wasting huge sums of public money on the use of temporary agency staff in Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda and Louth County Hospital.
Instead of tackling the very real issue of recruitment and retention of staff the government and HSE last year spent €13,688,000 of agency staff between the two Louth Hospitals.
Teachta Adams said:
“In the last seven years the government has paid out over one and a half billion euros on agency staffing in our hospitals and community services.
“Last year the HSE spent €293 million or almost €1 million a day on costly agency and locum doctors, nurses, and other staff in order to fill posts left vacant due to the recruitment and retention crisis.
“The figures for the two Louth hospitals make depressing reading. In 2017 Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda spent twelve and a half million euro on agency staff, including almost 6 million on doctors and dental agency staff and almost two and a half million on nursing staff.
Louth County Hospital last year spent just over one million euro on agency staff, including 135,000 on doctors and dental staff and over half a million on nursing staff.
“This over dependence on the use of costly and more expensive agency staff is a direct result of the failure of the government to tackle the recruitment and retention crisis that has escalated under its watch. Permanent staff properly employed can help bring stability to a health service in crisis. The overreliance on agency staff means that there is perpetual uncertainty in the provision of essential health services.
“Health service staff and their unions have consistently reported working conditions, facilities, supports, training opportunities and pay as the cause of the recruitment and retention crisis, and until these issues are addressed the crisis will continue and these staggering sums of money will be wasted on agency staff at Our Lady of Lourdes and Louth County Hospital.”
At this week’s meeting of the Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Sinn Féin Councillor Joanna Byrne called for a multi-agency approach to be implemented to tackle the growing issue of illegal dumping in Louth.
Cllr Byrne stated that her home town of Drogheda is facing an epidemic regarding illegal dumping, with levels hitting an all time high. She put it to the Chief Superintendent Christy Mangan and representatives of Louth County Council that if they can work on a multi-agency basis to tackle illegal parking, the same must be done to combat the littering and dumping that is escalating at a rapid pace.
Cllr Byrne said “My least favourite word has just been mentioned – ‘Dumping’. Let me tell you all here and now – Drogheda is out of control with illegal dumping, it is gone beyond even talking about. There is absolutely no dressing it up anymore. I am calling for a multi-agency approach to tackling this, be it introducing covert CCTV, linking current community CCTV locations to Drogheda Garda Station, an increased presence of An Garda Síochana and Community/Litter Warden’s around litter hot-spots or more emphasis in filtering through this rubbish and following up on prosecutions, but something has to be done and has to be done fast. This is now an epidemic and if the Local Authority and An Garda Síochana can work together so successfully on targeting traffic matters the same effort needs to be put into tackling illegal dumping.”
Joe McGuinness, Director of Services for Louth County Council told Cllr Byrne that they are conscious of the rise in illegal dumping and it is a growing concern for them but assured her that they were launching an awareness campaign around the issue of waste disposal and anti-dumping initiatives over the coming weeks. Whilst Cllr Byrne welcomed this she did however inform him that this “simply isn’t enough”.
Cllr Byrne said “Awareness campaigns are great but they are now, in my view, far too late. The dumping throughout Drogheda, and indeed further afield in Louth has somehow become socially acceptable. This is not acceptable to me as a public representative of this county, it is not acceptable for my constituents, it is not acceptable to the volunteers and community groups left with the task of continuously cleaning up this dumping and it certainly should not be acceptable to the Local Authority or the Gardaí. The time has come for you both to invest in this together with resources and willpower, the time has come to get tough! Re-packaging old commitments and answers on this isn’t cutting it anymore, token gestures such as awareness campaigns doesn’t cut it anymore either, action is what is needed, and is long overdue.”