SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has called for urgent action after it emerged that a staggering 1,800 health and social care jobs in Northern Ireland remain vacant.
He said these figures whilst awful were not unexpected and are indicative of a historical lack of workforce planning that is plaguing the Department of Health.
The Foyle MLA said: “Undoubtedly this employment gap within the health service is extremely challenging, considering the ongoing resourcing crisis here.
!In the absence of a breakdown of individual Trust areas, I would imagine a disproportionate of these vacancies fall within more rural Trust areas.
“We need to implement measures here, including levelling the pay differential between Northern Ireland and the UK, to attract medical professionals.
“I have consistently spoke of the pool of talent here; we must shift our focus to retaining these qualified medical specialists and not lose them to better paid opportunities across the water.
“If the issue of resourcing can be tackled, it will go a long way in solving the myriad of problems plaguing the health service, including the some 280, 000 patients waiting for consultant led appointments.
“Resourcing is the foundation on which we can rebuild the service, and this is why I have stressed the importance of a Medical school in Derry for a number of years now.
“Every day we hear another way in which Stormont’s stalemate is failing our health service. Without ministerial decisions on these vital health issues we run the risk of wasting transformation money ‘secured’ as part of the DUP confidence and supply agreement, if it cannot be spent within the two-year deadline.
“However, this is not just a question of money, this is the loss of opportunities, job creation and the regeneration of our health service. Inaction now isn’t merely an oversight but the wilful neglect of our health service and complete disregard for the needs of the people of Northern Ireland.
“We can’t be bystanders of the continued deterioration of health and social care here or shirk responsibility.
“This bull-headed approach to politics by the DUP and Sinn Fein cannot and should not be allowed to continue. Representing the people of Northern Ireland is not a by-product of government, but its key responsibility.
“The DUP and Sinn Fein should keep that in mind, considering that the continued stalemate implicates them in the degradation of our health system and denial of decent health care services to the ordinary man, woman and child,” added Mr Durkan.Tags: