Tuesday, 26 June 2018
I am not asking the Taoiseach to do anything other than to engage in wise and prudent use of public moneys. If, however, it is his view that there is not a crisis in the recruitment and retention of medical staff, particularly nurses, I must inform him that there are lots of people working on the front line who would strongly disagree with him. I am putting the simple proposition to the Taoiseach that €300 million spent in a calendar year on the recruitment of agency staff does not represent good value for money. I am suggesting that there are things that need to be done to address that situation. This is a long-running problem. I have given the Taoiseach figures for 2017, but we could go back further and identify the same problem.
We have to decide that we are going to give our nurses, for example, a fair deal, that there will be full pay equalisation and that, having trained the best and brightest, we are not content any longer to allow them to emigrate, thereby losing all of their skill and expertise. Can the Taoiseach indicate in concrete terms how he proposes to address this situation? It is not just a case of how much money is spent. We could debate the overall resourcing of the health service on another occasion. I expect that we are on different sides of that argument. It is not just a case of how much money is spent, it is a question of how it is spent. Agency staffing is clearly not an optimum, desirable or prudent solution.