The HSE should immediately fill the 75 nursing vacancies in hospitals in Portlaoise, Mullingar and Tullamore which could cost €4 million by the end of the year in agency bills, according to a Laois Offaly TD.
Documents obtained by Fianna Fáil’s Sean Fleming show that in the first quarter of 2012, over €1 million euros was paid to agency nurses who worked enough hours to keep 75 full time nurses in a job.
“The HSE is losing money hand over fist by paying for all this work to be carried out on an agency basis. It is clear based on these figures that the HSE may pay out well over €4 million on agency nursing hours during 2012. It would be much less expensive to employ nurses full time,” he said.
Dep Fleming received the information from the HSE’s Acute Hospital Service, in reply to his Dáil query.
In Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise, €319,889 was paid from January to March for agency nurses who worked a total of 10,900 hours. This is the equivalent of 22 extra nurses working full time at the hospital.
Tullamore’s bill came in slightly less at €273,508 for enough nursing hours to keep 25 nurses working full time, while Mullingar topped the list, paying out €456,000 for 10,929 nursing hours, the same as 28 nurses.
Dep Fleming points out that it would save money to employ nurses.
“There are a lot of young qualified nurses in Ireland who should be employed and this is an ideal opportunity to do this and would also achieve better value for money for the tax payer,” he says.
The HSE were unavailable for comment.