HSE to save 33 million on agency staff

  • Niall Hunter, Editor

The HSE says it plans to save over €33 million this year through a major savings programme aimed at driving down agency staff recruitment costs.

Over €139 million was spent by HSE agencies in 2010 on hiring temporary agency staff  to fill nurse, doctor, healthcare assistant and allied health professional posts.

The health executive has in the past been criticised for its level of spending on temporary agency staff to fill in for workers who had not been replaced permanently as a result of the recruitment embargo.

HSE Human Resources Director Sean McGrath said today that existing HSE staff will not be allowed "double-job" by taking on additional agency work.

Those who left recently under the voluntary redundancy scheme will also be prohibited from taking on HSE agency work.

Under the HSE's savings plan, there will be strict local controls controls on agency spending and the number of agencies supplying staff to the health service will be reduced from 30 to 12.

Mr McGrath said the numbers working for the HSE would drop from a figure of 110,000 early last year to 104,000 at the end of this year.

A total of 6,000 staff will have left under the recruitment embargo by 2014.

Mr McGrath said a total of 2,006 staff left the HSE under the recent voluntary redundancy and early retirement schemes. The average pay-out for managers under the early retirement deal was €72,000.

The HSE is trying to recruit doctors form India and Pakistan to fill gaps in its junior hospital doctor complement.

According to the HSE, only 512 additional hospital consultants have been recruited since 2005 and junior doctor posts have been reduced by 300.

However, under the outgoing Government's manpower policy, which was to create a 'consultant-provided' service, the number of consultants was to have been nearly doubled from just over 2,000 to nearly 4,000, and the number of juniors doctors halved to around 2,500.

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