Agency staff spend at LGH doubles under FG-Lab – claim

Letterkenny General Hospital.

Letterkenny General Hospital.

SINN Féin Finance Spokesperson Deputy Pearse Doherty has blasted the Government over the spiralling costs of employing agency staff at Letterkenny General Hospital.
Deputy Doherty’s comments come after it was revealed that since coming to power back in 2011, the amount of money spent on agency staff at the hospital had more than doubled by the end of 2014 under the coalition partners.
Following the introduction of the general moratorium on recruitment and promotions across the public sector back in March 2009, both the public and civil service have seen a huge reduction in staffing levels – including the numbers employed within the health service.
This has meant that the HSE has been prevented from hiring permanent staff members and, save for certain exemptions, positions within the Health service have had to be filled via the use of agency staff.
This has created a situation where the amount of money which hospitals have had to spend to employ agency staff such as nurses, doctors and consultants has ballooned over the last few years – this has also been the case at Letterkenny General Hospital.
The cost of employing agency staff at Letterkenny General Hospital back in 2010 was €2,974,000. Four years later and this cost had more than doubled to €6,724,000 in 2014 under the current Government parties.
“In essence, after less than four years, Fine Gael and Labour have managed to increase the dependency on agency staff at Letterkenny General by such an extent that expenditure on agency personnel at the hospital has gone up by over 125% – this is simply scandalous.”
“The government’s recruitment embargo, which we were told would reduce the cost of running the health service, has had precisely the opposite effect and our acute public hospitals – including Letterkenny General – have subsequently been crippled by spiralling wage costs and chronic understaffing,” Deputy Doherty said.
“Worringly, despite the Government’s spin about an easing of the recruitment embargo within the public sector, this year the wage bill for agency staff at Letterkenny General looks set to match if not surpass last year’s figures with €6,387,000 having already been spent as of August this year.
“This colossal spend comes at a time when overcrowding at our acute public hospitals has reached record levels as was seen earlier this year during the crisis at Emergency Departments across the state,” he added.

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