I have requested the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy on the current level of expenditure on agency staff in hospitals and care institutions.
The recruitment of permanent staff in the health service is subject to compliance with the terms of the general moratorium on recruitment and the requirement to achieve substantial net reductions in staff numbers in the course of 2013.
The Public Service Stability Agreement 2013- 2016 (Haddington Road Agreement) contains provisions which will increase the working hours of staff in the public service. Within the health service, these additional working hours will be focused to the maximum extent on reduction in the usage of agency staff and overtime working.
The Agreement also provides for revised remuneration arrangements in respect of the Graduate Nurse Initiative, which will support the retention of recently qualified graduate nurses and midwives within the Irish health system, will enable these health professionals to gain valuable work experience and development opportunities post-graduation and will also facilitate a reduction in expenditure on agency nurse staffing. In addition, the Agreement commits the health service employers and SIPTU to the establishment in the health sector of an intern scheme for support staff, under which 1,000 intern places will be created. These interns will be supported in attaining an appropriate qualification to FETAC level 5. The employment of these interns will allow the health service to substantially reduce the use of health support agency staff.