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Healthcare staff shortages demand major rethink

15 October, 2004

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has said that major staff shortages across almost every facet of our health service demands a major rethink, particularly on opening up access and training to all health professions.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"It is clear that right across the health service there are significant and serious staff shortages that are not improving. While a piecemeal approach has seen slight improvements this is no substitute for a coherent long-term strategy to tackle staff shortages that are impacting of levels of care and creating very serious stresses throughout the healthcare system.

"We need not just more doctors and nurses, we also need more occupational therapists and other allied health professionals supported with a strong commitment to ongoing professional training.

"What is required is a radical rethink on opening up access to all health professions and a major expansion in the number of training and university places available along with a serious look at how we financially support people giving that long term commitment to our health services.

"In particular we must recognise that the British governments plans to introduce a massive hike in the cost of third level education will create huge barriers to participation. We also need to look at incentives for ongoing career development and to support the retention of staff.

"This is going to cost money but money spent now on increasing the numbers of people studying medicine, nursing and the other healthcare related subjects will pay long-term dividends.

"I also believe that we need to develop the Health College model here locally by creating a dedicated facility that can allow for an expansion in the number of training and university places while also supporting the significant levels of ongoing professional training that are vital to a modern healthcare system." ENDS

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