The HSE has spent over €6.2 million on agency staff at the region’s main hospital in the past year.
It means it’s the hospital with the highest spend on these workers in the entire country – some €1.3 million ahead of the next highest.
Clare FM’s James Mulhall reports:
In the year to the end of May, a total of €8.4 million was spent on agency staff across the entire UL Hospitals Group.
Of that number, €6.2 million was spent at University Hospital Limerick – the highest figure in the country – while over €1 million was spent at Ennis General.
The figures, released by Health Minister Simon Harris in response to a request from Sinn Féin, also inlcude a breakdown of some of the occupations that have cost the most money.
Medical/dental procedures at UHL racked up agency staff costs of €2.9 million in the past year, which was beaten only by Portlaoise General Hospital on €3 million.
A further €235,000 was spent at the Dooradoyle facility drafting in agency nurses.
The UL Hospitals Group says the spend on agency staff should be considered in the overall context of increasing demand for services and that these workers account for just 7% of their total wage packet.
James Mulhall, Clare FM, first for local news.
UL Hospitals Group Statement
Agency staff expenditure should be considered in the overall context of increasing demand for services; the impact of earlier constraints on recruitment in the public service; ongoing challenges in relation to the recruitment and retention of clinical staff; and actions necessary to support compliance with the European Working Time Directive. Agency pay cost is under constant review. Agency staff are used where there is a difficulty in recruiting and employing hospital staff and where there is a short-term critical service need. Agency is also used for flexibility to allow for variation in activity and as required to meet patient demand needs.
UL Hospitals Group, in common with other healthcare providers in Ireland and all over the developed world, faces a significant challenge in meeting the global shortage of healthcare professionals. Medical agency staff may be engaged in view of difficulties recruiting consultants in particular posts. Agency staff of all grades are engaged to provide and support essential services, including services which require round-the-clock cover.
At UL Hospitals, agency pay accounts for a total of 7% of the total pay bill over the period in question (January-May 2019). The Group is proactively converting agency staff to permanent posts where possible to reduce agency expenditure.