HSE imposes absenteeism targets linked to funding
The HSE will only fund replacement personnel for a health provider if absenteeism stays within official limits next year
HOSPITALS AND health agencies whose levels of absenteeism are above official targets are unlikely to receive funding to provide replacement staff over the official limits next year.
The HSE is expected to provide money for the replacement personnel only up to the level of the official target for absenteeism next year.
Under its current national service plan for this year, the HSE’s target for absenteeism is 3.5 per cent.
Last Friday the secretary general of the Department of Health, Ambrose McLoughlin, told a conference that for a period in August one hospital had an absenteeism level of 11 per cent.
The HSE’s director general-designate Tony O’Brien told the Dáil Public Accounts Committee earlier this month that “from next year we will only be funding replacement of staff at the acceptable level of absenteeism, in respect of which our national target, as provided for in this year’s service plan, is 3.5 per cent”.
“We have yet to have a discussion on what it will be next year,” he said.
Mr McLoughlin told the conference at the Institute of Public Administration last Friday that the level of absenteeism in the health system was neither affordable nor sustainable.
“During the August weekend, we had experience of ‘Olympic absenteeism’. One of the hospitals in the State had 11 per cent of its staff absent. Nobody can run a business like that,” he said.
“We have to control absenteeism because that is the key to controlling the costs associated with overtime and agency.”
Official figures released by the HSE last week maintained that the hospitals, local health offices (LHO) and agencies with the highest absenteeism rates in July were: “Cork Dental Hospital, Limerick , Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise, Clare , Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Dooradoyle, Tipperary, North/Limerick, East , Wicklow , Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Ennis, Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Kildare/West Wicklow , Sligo Regional Hospital, Roscommon County Hospital, Dublin West , Waterford , Daughters of Charity, Roscrea, Laois/Offaly , Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital – all above 6 per cent.”
The report said total absenteeism levels at the Cork Dental Hospital in July were 10.44 per cent.
For general support staff in the hospital, the absenteeism level was 28.34 per cent. The absenteeism rate in July for staff categorised as “other patient and client care” was 18.81 per cent.
Nationally the level of absenteeism in the health service for July stood at 4.69 per cent, down from 4.77 per cent in June, the official HSE performance report stated.