Waiting times across the board in Northern Ireland’s Health & Social Care Service are being increased further by focus on internal recruitment
Unite has challenged Department of Health to prioritise transformation funding on external recruitment to address acute staffing pressures
December 18th: Unite Regional Officer with responsibility for his union’s membership in the health sector, Kevin McAdam, explained that much of the additional £100 million funding secured for the NHS in Northern Ireland as a result of the DUP confidence-and-supply deal has gone to internal recruitment processes which have actually undermined frontline provision and extended inpatient waiting times.
“We were told that the £100 million secured as part of the ‘confidence-and-supply’ agreement between the Democratic Unionist Party to keep the Conservatives in power would improve healthcare services in Northern Ireland. Sadly, the evidence is that it has actually made the crisis in healthcare provision here worse.
“Northern Ireland’s health and social care services have suffered from years of biting austerity. There are very real pressures on frontline services and those underpaid healthcare workers who are performing miracles day and daily but the reality is that our health service is on the edge. A key problem has been the failure to recruit which it was hoped the transformation monies would help to address.
“Unfortunately, the opposite has been the case. Due to the need to spend money ahead of a fiscal deadline next April, transformation monies have been disproportionately directed towards the easier, internal recruitment meaning that key staff have actually been shifted away from frontline services, eroding further the capacity of our health service to meet demand. The external recruitment needed to make a big difference to outcomes has simply not happened.
“The result has been to further exacerbate the lengthening waiting times facing those in need of inpatient appointments and in particular a leap in the numbers waiting more than half a year for vital treatments.
“Unite has raised these criticisms direct with Departmental officials; instead of remaining in denial mode, they must now reconsider their approach. Lives are at stake – it is too serious to continue to get this wrong. The transformation funding must now be prioritised for recruitment externally – shifting staff within the service is doing nothing but undermining frontline provision and further extending waiting times”, Mr McAdam said.