Clarity needed on progress of Workforce Strategy

Vice Chair of the Health Committee Pam Cameron MLA has called for clarity from the Department of Health on the implementation of the Health and Social Care Workforce Strategy.

By Pam Cameron MLA

South Antrim

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Mrs Cameron expressed her concerns at the delay in recruiting and retaining staff within the heath service and the impact this was having upon patients across Northern Ireland.

The South Antrim MLA said.

“The workforce challenges facing our health and social care system in Northern Ireland are having a devastating impact on our waiting lists and our ability to transform services.

In 2018, the Department of Health published its Health and Social Care Workforce Strategy which was tasked with delivering effective workforce planning.

We are now over halfway through the period of that strategy and it is unclear how many of its objectives have been achieved.

The report highlighted the grave consequences of the failure to achieve these aims and objectives. These failures are now playing out in our growing waiting lists and with increased pressures on our Emergency Departments.

Analysis carried out by the British Medical Association highlights the stark reality of the situation, with almost 300 permanent consultant posts currently unfilled.

Waiting lists cannot be driven down or pressures in other areas of our health service adequately addressed, with such high level of vacancies.

We need immediate clarity from the Department on the number of current vacancies within the workforce and why the current strategy has failed to meet the needs of the service.

Effective workforce planning plays a vital role in the DUP’s plan to fix our health service. The DUP is committed to delivering its plan, to ensure the people of Northern Ireland have a first-class health service.”

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