€13.5 million spent on temporary staffing at Portlaoise hospital

Agency staffing makes up nearly a quarter of wage bill according to new figures

By Conor Ganly


By Conor Ganly



Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise

A quarter of all money spent staffing Portlaoise hospital is goes on agency staff according to newly published HSE figures which reveal that more than €13.5 million is spent on temporary staffing.

Laois Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley criticised the high cost of employing Agency staff at Portlaoise Hospital and claims it is money badly spent after getting the data in the Dáil.

“In reply to my recent Dáil Question on staffing costs at Portlaoise Hospital, the figures provided to me by the HSE show that Agency Staff costs amount to 25% of the total staffing budget.

"Out of a total wage bill of over €53 million in 2016, the costs of Agency staff, locums and other non HSE staff at the Hospital amounted to over €13,500,000. The proportionate staffing costs for the previous 2 years are very similar.

He said the wage figures provided to me show that Agency Staff are much more expensive than permanent staff.

"This makes no economic sense at a time the hospital is operating on a very tight budget.  The absence of a long term plan for Portlaoise Hospital means that permanent, directly employed staff cannot be attracted to work there.   Such a high number of temporary staff makes it very difficult to  organise, plan and deliver proper services, especially in a busy hospital,” said Deputy Stanley.

Despite all the negative publicity and uncertainty surrounding the hospital the the Laois TD said staff deserve the highest praise for their sterling and dedicated work in a very difficult work environment.

He said the Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health has recently acknowledged the ‘very significant progress that has been achieved by the staff and senior management team at the hospital, to improve the quality and safety of maternity services provided.’ 

The Sinn Féin TD reiterated his view that the hospital requires a 5 to 10 year plan.

In its reports before Christmas, the Health Information and Quality Authority highlighted the level of agency staff as an issue facing the hospital and the HSE.

The HSE's Dublin Midlands Hospital Group has submitted a plan to the Department of Health which is understood to have recommended significant downgrade. The Minister for Health Simon Harris has the final say.