Fianna Fáil TD for Dublin West Jack Chambers has expressed serious concern about the amount of money spent by the HSE on agency staff in the first four months of the year.

New figures released to Fianna Fáil reveal that 49% of the HSE’s agency staff budget was used up by the end of April.

Deputy Chambers commented, “The figures from the HSE make for worrying reading and could see its budget for agency staff spiral out of control before the end of the year.  Bosses in the health service estimated agency staff costs at €226m for all of 2016, however €111m of that has already been spent by the end of April.

“If agency costs continue to be racked up at this rate, the total spend for the year would be in the region of €333 million – that’s €108 million of an overrun.   While agency staff play an important role in filling gaps in the system, the Health Minister must ensure that key posts within our health service are not left vacant for unacceptably long periods of time.

“Filling staff vacancies must be made a priority for senior managers and Minister Harris must ensure that this is done in a timely manner.  Not only would this lead to better continuity for patients and staff, it would cut down on agency costs.   Until this issue is properly addressed, we are unlikely to see these substantial agency charges reduced”.