The HSE has spent over €32m on agency fees to provide mental health services in the second half of 2016.  The figure was contained in a reply to a Parliamentary Question from Fianna Fáil’s Mental Health Spokesperson James Browne.

“This is a substantial amount of money being spent by the HSE in order to temporarily plug gaps in services.  Over €50 million was spent during 2017 on agency provided mental health services,” said Deputy Browne.

“The Government committed €15 million of new mental health funding in 2017. Three times that figure was spent on agency despite the HSE previously acknowledging that agency staff are more costly and subject to greater limitations.

“Despite several commitments to recruit more staff, the government and the HSE are continuing to fail patients in our mental health services.  Agency staff provide services but they cannot deliver the continuity and consistency in care that is so essential for patients.

“I am baffled by the government’s reluctance to address this issue as a matter of urgency.  Not only would it solve the staffing crisis in our mental health service, the reduction in agency costs would deliver a huge saving to the State.

“Minister Harris needs to get to grips with agency spending as a matter of priority.  It is much more expensive way of delivering mental health services and the savings that would be made as a result of employing staff nurses and carers could be used to provide additional services”.