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Dundalk as it Happens

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital spends more on agency staff than any other hospital

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Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda

A report in today’s Irish Times has revealed that Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda is spending millions of euro on agency staff without confirming they have Garda or medical clearance or have training in health and safety.

The Co Louth hospital is also breaching HSE rules by failing to use a competitive process to select some of the recruitment agencies it deals with and putting in place a service level agreement as required.

The process for recruiting and paying for agency staff requires strengthening in significant areas and the effectiveness of internal controls is limited, according to a HSE audit report.

The audit of Our Lady of Lourdes showed the requirement to fill out a request form where a post was being filled by agency staff was not fulfilled in the 25 cases examined. Meanwhile, the rates charged by the agency were not always verified against supporting documentation. The hospital spent €16.8 million on agency staff in 2013, up from €12.6 million the previous year.

While service level agreements were in place with the two companies that provide the majority of agency staff to the hospital, this was not the case with two other companies which have been paid €3.8 million in the past six years.

Hospitals are increasingly reliant on agency staff because of restrictions on recruitment and a failure to attract candidates for permanent posts after years of salary cuts. However, agency workers paid on an hourly basis end up being far costlier than permanent staff. Drogheda has higher agency costs than any other hospital.

Nationally, €238 million was spent on agency staff in 2013.

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