Senior management at the HSE does not believe the recruitment moratorium in the public sector is to blame for the doubling of the agency nursing bill at the Midland Regional Hospital in Mullingar over the last four years.
In 2013 it cost the HSE €2.2 million to employ additional nursing staff at the hospital, up from just €1.1 million in 2010.
However, the Executive seems to be getting a grip on this cost, as it is actually down €100,000 on the 2012 figure.
“The general moratorium on recruitment across the public sector and its application to the public health sector continues to be in place [and] no indications have been given to the HSE that this policy is to be rescinded. However, the current employment control framework for the health sector does provide for recruitment by exception [for] front-line services ...Therefore the notion of the embargo on the recruitment of front line staff is not an accurate one as the HSE continues to recruit front-line staff against a challenging backdrop of Government policy,” said Mary Gorry, the assistant national director of HR at the HSE.
These figures were revealed in reply to a question from Cllr Peter Burke at the most recent meeting of the Dublin Mid Leinster health forum in Naas, Co Kildare last week.
Though €2.2m seems a lot, it is less than 4 per cent of the hospital’s operating budget of €58m, a figure that has been reduced from an all-time high of €75m in 2008.
The hospital employs a total of 320 nurses who took care of an impressive 76,500 patients in 2013; however, the Executive did not reveal how many of these staff were agency workers.