SIPTU has demanded that workers employed under the HSE support staff intern scheme be made permanent with immediate effect instead of continuing the creeping privatisation of the health service. SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The massive spend on agency staff by the HSE has reached €328 million in 2014. It would be much more cost effective for interns to be brought into the health service’s permanent staff as they are clearly are needed and this would also allow workers to benefit from secure employment conditions. “SIPTU will not support any notion of expanding the Support Staff scheme beyond the 1,000 positions agreed under the Haddington Road Agreement. I have informed the HSE of our position that staff employed under the intern programme to date be made permanent with immediate effect.” Bell also criticised the HSE over reports that the public service recruitment embargo has led to the number of senior health managers increasing by over 10% while frontline staff has been reduced by 5%. He said: “SIPTU members are shocked by the revelations that, on the one hand, senior managers have exited the HSE on voluntary redundancy schemes but every post vacated has been filled and in some areas additional senior managers have been recruited. This was done while 3,000 directly employed frontline jobs were lost and not replaced creating serious stresses in the delivery of services and continuity of patient care.   “I find it staggering that in 2013 the HSE spent over €230 million on agency staff in order to prop up the staff recruitment embargo that only serves to fill the pockets of “for profit” private employers. To add insult to injury it has now been revealed that the agency spend for this year will reach €328m despite the fact that HSE management has instructed that no agency staff be engaged.”