15/01/2019

Medical Staff Shortage Reveals NI's Vulnerable Health System- UUP

The Ulster Unionist Party has hit out after the Department of Health revealed it is facing a crisis due to a shortage in medical students.

A review into places for trainee doctors in Northern Ireland recently found that at least 100 more students are needed each year to meet the growing demand, which could force service cuts of up to £30million a year to fund a student recruitment drive.

UUP spokesperson for health, Roy Beggs MLA, said it is "ridiculous" that the Department is choosing between training doctors or cutting local provisions.

"Northern Ireland has an acute and growing problem of a shortage of key medical personnel. As demand grows, the shortage of doctors will only continue to get worse, making an already difficult problem even more pronounced with every passing year," the east Antrim MLA said.

"It's been known for some time that we're in the midst of a workforce crisis in the local health service. There are over 7,000 vacancies across the system and a worrying number of them are for key consultant, GP and nursing posts.
News Image
"The current problems are a direct result of the failure to workforce plan, combined with the opportunistic actions of private healthcare recruitment agencies. The increasing reliance on bank doctors and nurses is in part due to so many staff leaving the NHS to go work for health agencies, attracted by their promises of higher pay and fewer working hours.

"It is ridiculous therefore that the local Health Department have claimed it will only be able to increase the number of doctors it trains, if it cuts local services."

Mr Beggs continued: "NHS funding should be used tactically to develop a sustainable workforce solution, but that's just not happening at present. Huge sums of money are being spent by the local Trusts each year on temporary staff and that's crippling their ability to instead appoint new permanent staff.

"Any wider review of medical training must also include an acceptance by future students that if the taxpayer is expected to pay for most of their training, costing around £200,000 for each new doctor, then certain expectations must be placed on them on remaining within the NHS for a minimum period of time.

"It is especially important that the practice of some medical students receiving their full training here only to immediately move abroad for work is ended."



(JG/CM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

04 February 2019
Two Die In Serious Collision Between Dungannon And Moy
Two men have died and three other people have been injured in a three-vehicle collision just outside Moy in County Tyrone. The incident happened at around 1.40pm on Sunday 03 February. Those injured in the crash, a man and two women, were transferred to hospital but their conditions are not yet clear.
04 February 2019
Graveyard Altercation Leads To Weapons Seizure
An incident at a County L'Derry graveyard over the weekend led to the discovery of a haul of weapons, it has emerged. Two loaded shotguns, knives, blades and suspected acid were seized on the Altinure Road in Park on the morning of Saturday 02 February.
04 February 2019
UUP Demand A More 'Constructive' Approach From The EU
An Ulster Unionist MEP has called for a more constructive approach from the EU as the UK seeks a workable deal to facilitate a smooth Brexit. Jim Nicholson's comments follow a debate with EU leaders in Brussels.
28 January 2019
14-Year-Old Boy Among Those Arrested For Drink Driving
Over 300 drink drivers were detected by the PSNI over the festive period last year, with a 14-year-old boy among them. The figure of 322 was down by more than 10% on the previous year, with the oldest person being 83 years old.
28 January 2019
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton Set To Retire
PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton has announced his intentions to retire later this year. Mr Hamilton has served in the force for 34 years and informed the Northern Ireland Policing Board today, 28 January, that he will retire at the end of June. He has served in the role as Chief Constable for five years.