'Workforce pressures one of greatest health challenges' - Sheehan
Sinn Féin MLA Pat Sheehan has said workforce pressures are one of the greatest challenges facing the health and social care system.
The party’s Health spokesperson was responding to news that there is an estimated staff shortage of 5,500 across the system.
Pat Sheehan said:
"Ensuring capacity in the health and social care workforce is fundamental to delivering existing front line services.
"The level of vacancies in the system is unsustainable and is in part due to a lack of training places to attract more staff.
"Michelle O’Neill as Health Minister recognised this shortfall and substantially increased the number of nurse training places here in the north.
"Increasing the number of training places was an important development but it will take time for it to deliver more staff.
"We need increased recruitment and retention efforts from the Department of Health to begin to address existing pressures in the immediate term.
“The health and social care system must become an Employer of Choice as outlined in the Delivering Together plan to ensure staff genuinely feel valued.
"Moving forward, the transformation of health and social care services is crucial but depends on a workforce to deliver it.
"The Department of Health needs to progress its workforce strategy in a way that ensures we develop a workforce than can deliver change to create a health system that patients and staff require.”