Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Mental Health, James Browne TD has said the repeated Government pledges to reduce the dependency on agency nursing staff to provide services by better engaging in direct recruitment, must be honoured.

New information obtained by Fianna Fáil reveals that the Health Service Executive spend on agency level agency staff in mental health services nationwide has rocketed from €14.3 million in 2013 to almost €53 million in 2017. Close to €13 million was spent in the first three months of this year.

“This is a very substantial amount of money being spent by the Health Service Executive in a desperate bid to temporarily plug the gaps in services. Mental health agency expenditure amounted to more than 5% of the overall budget for mental health last year,” he said.

“In simpler terms, the total amount spent was three times the €15 million in new spending announced in 2017 for mental health. This of course is a recurring story.

“Repeated pledges from the Minister and the Department of Health to reduce the use of agency staff and to better meet services by recruiting directly, must be fully honoured.

Deputy Browne concluded, “Aside from the fact that it would be better value for money and more responsible spending of public monies, it will give those requiring mental health services the extra benefit of being able to build a relationship with a full time care provider and not a temporary stand in.”