Health Minister Welcomes Increase In HSC Staff

Northern Ireland's health and social care whole-time equivalent workforce has increased by over 13% (7,738) in the past five years, according to new figures from the Department of Health.

The figures also show that the number of nurses and midwives has increased by 16% (2,443), while medical and dental posts have gone up by 15.8% (679) over the same period.

Welcoming the figures, Health Minister, Robin Swann, said that they "highlight the difference his Department's focus on workforce development has made".

He said: "These latest figures highlight the continued growth in the HSC workforce. We now have 16% more nurses and almost 16% more clinicians/dentists working in our health service than we did this time five years ago. This is very much welcome news.

"The figures represent significant progress and help demonstrate the effectiveness of my Department's focus on workforce development. However, we must also be honest that while we remain committed to further building our workforce and continuing on this trajectory, it will be more difficult in the coming years as result of the financial deficit the Department continues to face.
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"I previously confirmed that my Department will maintain the number of training places commissioned for the incoming academic year and I will also be seeking funding from the central Transformation pot to enable the commissioning of additional training places. It is vital that we continue to support our workforce in this way.

"Putting our HSC workforce on a more sustainable footing has been a key priority for me during my time in office which is why I also took definitive action to reduce the system's reliance on off framework nursing agency use. The new framework for the supply of agency nurses, midwives and healthcare support workers has now been in place for 12 months and we are also seeing the dividends of this now pay off. Agency spend has reduced by over £19million in the past year but importantly this move will also have helped bring more stability to local teams.

"We all too often only hear of the challenges facing all staff within our health service, without also recognising and celebrating that the HSC system provides fulfilling careers with good training and professional development opportunities. I think this is borne out in these latest figures."

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