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The HSE’s Health Business Services (HBS) made appointments to over 4,000 new posts during the Covid-19 public health crisis in the spring, new information shows.
“Over the duration of the Covid crisis, HBS appointed 4,389 posts,” data released to this newspaper via Freedom of Information (FoI) law reveals.
The response states that the HSE supplemented its workforce through redeployment by increasing the hours of part-time staff and rehiring some retired clinicians.
Data shows that locum and agency staffing costs did not increase significantly during the crisis.
More than €151 million was spent on agency staffing from January to May this year, with monthly costs ranging between €29 million and €32 million.
The HSE was unable to provide details on the number of staff redeployed during the crisis and on how many would remain redeployed for the rest of the year.
The response added that in light of the pandemic, the HSE’s staffing policy was under review.
“The HSE is currently reviewing the staffing strategies that were utilised to support the pandemic effort. Central to this is a workforce planning exercise underway that will align with the HSE’s strategic and operational plans for the coming weeks, months and year; identify the level of redeployment; the needs of services; and the staffing levels required.”
Meanwhile, a separate FoI response on the HSE’s financial and budgetary position outlines the “significant uncertainty and complexity involved in making even high-level indicative estimates for service continuity in a Covid-19 environment for the full year 2020, 2021 and beyond”.
The HSE is currently undertaking what it described as a “bottom-up” process to aid in the estimation of 2020 activity and cost levels.
“This is the prerequisite for any financial projection for 2021.”
The process involves estimates from Community Healthcare Organisations, Hospital Groups and national services around their likely year-end position.
The HSE refused to disclose financial projections for 2020 and 2021, claiming that to do so would place it at a “disadvantage in its efforts to maximise its use of public funds and its capacity in response to the Covid-19 public health emergency”.