Spending on agency staff in the HSE west area has increased by 21 per cent in the first quarter of this year when compared with the first quarter of 2012. In the first four months of 2013 HSE West spent €5.275 million employing agency staff compared to €4.354 million for the same period in 2012.
A meeting of the HSE West regional forum was told this week that while there were increases in spending on agency staff, overtime costs in the same period decreased by 11 per cent. That represents a spend of €10.377 million with a decrease of €1.321 million on the same period last year.
Francis Rogers, assistant national director of HR with the HSE West, told the meeting in Merlin Park on Tuesday that the costs are a key element of the 2013 Cost Containment Plans and reductions in expenditure levels will be critical in delivering the pay reductions necessary in 2013.
The issue was raised by Cllr Brian Meaney, a member of Clare County Council, by way of a written question to the forum ahead of Tuesday’s meeting.
According to Cllr Meaney the one group which was winning was the agencies. Another member of the forum told the meeting that an agency nurse gets paid €28 an hour while a staff nurse gets paid €17.
According to Mr Rogers the continuation of the moratorium on recruitment within the health service was making it difficult for the HSE to recruit consultants with specific expertise. He said there was a consultant psychiatrist on long-term leave in Mayo with the post being filled by an agency member.