HSE spends €45m on agency staff amid hiring freeze
ALMOST €45m was spent by the HSE hiring agency staff in just five months last year in the middle of the ban on filling permanent posts.
Four hospitals paid out in excess of €3m each on agency staff between January and May last year.
The ban on filling full-time posts was introduced in 2007 but the HSE also paid more than €200,000 to an outside recruitment agency between 2007 and 2008. This happened even though the HSE has its own recruitment service -- the NRS -- with a staff of 57.
This is in addition to the HSE being able to use the Public Appointment Service which can recruit workers for the HSE without additional charges.
The HSE paid TTM Healthcare recruitment agency in County Clare €209,000 to recruit speech and language therapists and occupational therapists from Australia.
They were hired to develop disability and primary care teams.
A HSE spokesperson explained that neither the skills nor the volume of specialists were available in the EU.
And in 2009/2010, TTM was paid more than €8,000 to recruit a senior dietician for child and adult mental health services in the south and also a number of senior clinical psychologists, according to an Irish Examiner report. A spokeswoman explained the recruitment agency was used only after all other avenues were exhausted.
The HSE has been able to recruit certain workers which are exempt from the public service hiring embargo.
These include 200 social workers following the recommendations of the Ryan Report.
Fine Gael has declared it will also not be lifting the moratorium on recruitment but would aim to be more flexible in areas of the health service badly hit by staff shortages.
Since the introduction of the public service recruitment embargo the majority of graduate nurses have had little choice but to emigrate.
Around 1,900 nursing and midwifery jobs have been lost while up to 1,000 workers due to retire will not be replaced.
Hospitals nationwide have at least 165 vacancies for junior doctors, with fears growing that a shortage of medical cover will hit services.
The HSE confirmed that it has still not been able to fill a large number of vital junior doctor posts in emergency departments, anaesthetics, general surgery, orthopaedic surgery, general medicine and paediatrics.