Agency staff costing three times ordinary LUH salaries

Letterkenny University Hospital

THE Health Service Executive is paying ‘two to three’ times the official salary to secure personnel from agencies to fill vacant senior medical posts in Letterkenny University Hospital.
The claim has been made by Councillor Ciaran Brogan who said it was ‘crazy’ that the HSE were prepared to deal in what he termed were false economies.
It follows confirmation that the HSE has been paying in the region of €8 million per year for agency doctors to work at LUH.
“It is widely acknowledged that the cost of an agency consultant can be two to three times the usual consultant’s salary and such false economies highlight the importance of ensuring that we strive to make the health service as competitive as possible in a bid to ensure that we’re in a position to recruit and retain consultants,” Cllr Brogan said
Medical Agency staff have been engaged in all of the following specialities in LUH during different periods in 2014, 2015 and 2016; Nephrology, General Medicine, General Surgery, Obstetrics, Paediatrics, Orthopaedics, Pathology, Microbiology, Radiology, Anaesthetics, Oncology and Emergency Department.
Cllr Brogan sought a breakdown of all areas in LUH that brought in agency employees and how much they were paid in the last three years.
In reply, Ms Ann Cosgrove, COO, Saolta University Health Care Group, said that a total of €25,395,44 was spent across the different staff categories in LUH on employing agency staff between 2014-16.
The vast majority of the that spend was on medical staff (€24.31m) with the balance on nursing (€33,468), Health Care Assistants (€859,490) and Health and Social Care Professionals (€191,422). The agency spend on medical staff in 2016 was €8.7m, down from over €9m in 2015, while the figure was €6.4m in 2014.
“We’re struggling to recruit and retain consultant staff, and these figures clearly show that we are overly reliant on agency and temporary consultants to fill gaps in the service.
“As a result, there is a lack of cohesion due to the sheer volume of staff who are coming and going which ultimately is undermining the quality of patient care,” Cllr Brogan said.
“Maybe it’s time that we made a ‘special case’ for Letterkenny and paid our doctors a little bit above the going rate in a bid to make it more attractive for them to stay and settle down as the present system certainly isn’t working,” he added.

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