SIPTU has called on the Government to directly recruit health staff and end payments to private ‘for profit’ recruitment agencies which amounted to approximately €250 million during 2015. SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “SIPTU is calling on the HSE to identify each of the 2500 posts filled by an agency worker and, where appropriate, open a recruitment competition to fill the position on a direct contract basis. This will save on the commission paid to ‘for profit’ recruitment agencies and allow workers the dignity of a full time, pensionable job. “Spending hundreds of millions of euro every year on agency staff makes no economic sense. It is based around the false economy of moving staff numbers ‘off balance sheet’ so it can be claimed that permanent staff numbers have been reduced without any impact on services.” He added: “During 2015, €250 million was spent on employing agency workers. This is despite an instruction to all managers in the HSE and related agencies to only use agency staff to cover absenteeism or peaks in service. It is clear from the amount of hours being allocated to agency staff that the HSE is using them to prop up the health service on a constant basis. “Staffing the health service should not be not be about mere optics but be based on value for money for taxpayers and ensuring the best standards of care for patients.”