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Rising HSE expenditure on medical agency staffing

By Catherine Reilly - 17th May 2022


HSE expenditure on medical/ dental agency staff in statutory acute and community settings was €95.1 million in 2021, up from €93.8 million in 2020, according to figures obtained by the Medical Independent (MI) under Freedom of Information (FoI) law. 

Last year, the spend mainly comprised of €61.5 million by HSE statutory acute hospitals (compared to €61.3 million in 2020) and €33.6 million by the nine Community Healthcare Organisations (CHOs) (compared to €32.5 million in 2020). 

During the first two months of 2022, total HSE spend in statutory services was €17 million compared with €14.6 million for the same period of 2021. 

In 2021 Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, expended the highest amount of all HSE statutory acute hospitals (€6.4 million), followed by University Hospital Limerick (€5.065 million), Letterkenny University Hospital (€5.025 million), and Cavan and Monaghan Hospital (€3.7 million). 

Last year, the Hospital Group with the largest expenditure was Saolta University Health Care Group (€14.5 million), followed by Dublin Midlands Hospital Group (€11.7 million), Ireland East Hospital Group (€11.2 million), South/South West Hospital Group (€8.4 million), RCSI Hospitals (€8.2 million), and University of Limerick Hospitals (€7.5 million). These figures do not include voluntary hospitals. 

In the CHOs, the highest expenditure was in CHO 8 (€7.3 million) and CHO 5 (€7.2 million). The lowest was in CHO 4 (€1.083 million) and CHO 6 (€1.442 million). 

According to the FoI response, the figures for 2021 and 2022 were “draft, unaudited, and subject to change”. 

The response also stated: “Agency costs for consultants and NCHDs are included in the medical/dental staff category, but are not separately identifiable….” 

“The shortcomings in the HSE legacy financial systems are well acknowledged and their replacement by a single standard financial system for the health sector is at the core of the finance reform programme initiated by the Department of Health.”

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