The HSE is standing over a decision to pay for agency nurses saying the are needed for essential care.
Documents released by Sean Fleming TD this mont show that in the first quarter of 2012, over €1 million was paid to agency nurses at Portlaoise, Tullamore and Mullingar hospitals. These nurses worked enough hours to keep 75 full time nurses in employment.
“There are a lot of young qualified urses in Ireland who should be employed, this would also achieve better value for money for the taxpayer,” said the Fianna Fáil TD.
In reply the HSE told the Leinster Express that staff shortages due to the moratorium and retirementse, mean they had to hire agency nurses for essential services running.
“The HSE is managing its resources in the context of the reduced staff as a result of the recent retirement scheme and the public sector moratorium which is in place across the public service,” the spokesperson said.
They said that maintaining essential services such as maternity and paediatrics made the decision to engage agencies necessary, and the agency hours worked are based on demand.
“It should be noted the figures supplied in a parliamentary response indicates the WTE (whole time equivalent) over a three month period and is not reflective of a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This daily WTE equivalent fluctuates based on nursing need to meet critical care/service situations. The situation is monitored on a continuous basis,” the statement ends.
In Midlands Regional Hospital Portlaoise, €319,889 was paid from January to March for 10,900 hours of work by agency nurses, the equivalent of 22 whole time staff. The Mullingar and Tullamore hours combined with this came to €1,048,397, which Dep Fleming said may cost over €4 million by the end of 2012.