Agency doctors and staffing gaps


Sir, – The HSE has released figures showing that an agency doctor can earn significantly more than a doctor employed directly by the HSE (“Agency doctors ‘can earn ¤71,000 more than full-time staff’”, September 8th).

There was a certain imbalance in publicising theoretical earning potential without any reported mention of the many negative aspects of being an agency doctor. Agency doctors work on a series of short-term arrangements, plugging gaps in hospital staffing with periods of unemployment between these short-term commitments. They may work in a Dublin hospital this week and in a Cork hospital next week. They have no sick pay, pension or security of tenure.

Agency doctors are rescue doctors – they help hospitals at a time of crisis by filling gaps created by the HSE’s failure to recruit its own staff.

For the HSE to undermine them reminds me of the sometimes reported practice of dialling 999, and when the fire service arrives, attacking the firemen and throwing stones at the fire engine. – Yours, etc,


Gorey, Co Wexford.