Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD says there will be new financial pressures on the health services in the coming months as expenditure on agency staff rose by more than 7% between January and June compared to 2016

Deputy Kelleher said, “Figures provided to me show that the HSE spent almost €181m on agency staff by the end of June this year. That’s up almost €13m compared to the same period in 2016 when €168m was spent.

“The HSE claimed in its service plan that there is ‘a continuous review of the cost and reliance on agency staff’. Well if that’s the case it seems to be an upward only review.

“The €181m spent so far amounts to 64% of the projected budget for agency staff in 2017 – which basically means that there has been a €40m overrun in the first six months. If trends continue the final bill for the year will be in excess of €360m instead of the €280m projected.

“An overrun of €80m is a very significant sum of money. It is equivalent to the total funding announced for the expansion of existing services and provision of new services in the HSE’s 2017 Service Plan. Similarly €80m would go two thirds of the way to providing the resources needed for the comprehensive mental health service envisaged under A Vision for Change.

“We all know that providing the resources for health expenditure will always be challenging. Ensuring that spending on agency staff comes in on target is an absolute must in this regard,” concluded Deputy Kelleher.