SIPTU has demanded that the Government immediately lift the recruitment embargo in the health service and phase out excessive payments to private ‘for profit’ recruitment agencies. SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Payments to private ‘for profit’ recruitment agencies amounted to €111 million in the first four months of 2016. That is approximately half of the entire HSE budget allocation for that period. “The days of putting hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ euros into the pockets of private companies must come to an end. The savings the HSE could make on the commission paid to ‘for profit’ recruitment agencies would alone allow for the recruitment of many workers into secure full-time and pensionable jobs. Having staff employed directly not only makes economic sense but also results in a better service as it allows for greater continuity in patient care.” He added: “SIPTU is calling on the HSE to identify each post filled by an agency worker and, where appropriate, open a recruitment competition to fill the position on a direct contract basis. The staffing of the health service should be underpinned by the best standards in recruitment, care for patients, value for money for taxpayers and decent jobs with living wages for all health workers.”