29/04/2009

Health Is Largest Single Employer, Says New Report

An analysis of staffing within the health service has shown that the workforce accounted for just over 10% of all persons in employment in Northern Ireland.

It has also proved to be not just the largest, but also the most complex workforce overall.

Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) details of the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care (HSC) Workforce cover the period up to 31 March last year.

The statistical publication presents an analysis of staff in post by occupational family, main location, gender, working pattern and age.

It also gives details of staff turnover between April 2007 and March 2008, as well as summary information on vacancies.

For the first time in this series of publications, due to improved data quality, home helps have been included in the Social Services workforce.

In March 2008, the NI HSC employed almost 78,000 people, including 'bank' or sessional staff.

The statistical publication covers the majority of the hospital, community and social services workforce (66,784 staff or 54,033 whole time equivalent) excluding the sessional staff - for which information is incomplete due to the variable nature of their employment.

Among the key points were that the HSC workforce has increased from 53,158 (41,478 WTE) in March 1999 to 66,784 (54,033 WTE) in March 2008, an increase of 26% (30% WTE) in this 10 year period.

The report also found that the whole time equivalent total of front-line staff including medical and dental staff, qualified nurses and allied health professionals experienced a small increase of 1% between March 2007 and March 2008.

The largest staff group was Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting staff, which, including nurse support staff, comprised one-third ,33% of the total WTE NI workforce. Approaching a half (44%) of these worked part-time.

There were 3,823 (3,520 whole time equivalent) medical and dental staff, excluding GPs, working in hospital and community settings. Just over a third (35%) of this group were consultants.

The whole time equivalent total of ambulance staff increased by 5% between March 2007 and March 2008.

The overall current vacancy rate within Health & Social Care fell from 3% in March 2007 to 2% in March 2008 and the highest number of vacancies in March 2008 was 415 within nursing, health visiting and midwifery.

This whole time equivalent represented a vacancy rate of 2%. However, the largest current vacancy rate was within Support Services at 4% or 190 while long-term vacancy rates at March 2008 were highest for ambulance staff at 2% representing 20 WTE.

In general terms, the Belfast Trust, was the largest HSC employer in Northern Ireland, employed over two-fifths (43%) of the entire HSC medical and dental workforce.

The Northern HSC Trust employed over a quarter (26%) of all social services staff working in NI HSC organisations.

As at Sept 2007, Northern Ireland directly employed the most qualified nursing staff per capita in the UK, at 78 per 10,000 population, in whole time equivalent terms.

This compares to England which had the lowest directly employed per capita rate at 58 WTE per 10,000 population.

(BMcC/JM)

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