The nursing and midwifery workforce group is the largest in Northern Ireland’s health and social care (HSC) sector, accounting for 22,300 (34 per cent) of the 65,000 staff in post at March 2018, and for £779 million (32 per cent) of the £2.4 billion staffing costs incurred in 2016-17. Nurses and midwives also have most direct contact with patients and service users, and provide the widest range of services across all settings.
In recent years the nursing and midwifery workforce has faced many challenges, including rising demand for care, high staffing vacancy levels, increasing reliance on agency staff, an ageing workforce, significant numbers of staff leaving to work elsewhere, and the need to ensure safe staffing levels. The independent care sector which has assumed greater responsibility for delivering care, has also experienced growing difficulties in recruiting and retaining nurses.
Our report will assess how the Department of Health and the HSC Trusts have reacted to these challenges, and the effectiveness of workforce planning measures to try and ensure that an appropriately resourced and skilled nursing and midwifery workforce, which is capable of coping with the rising demand for care effectively and efficiently, is in place in the HSC and independent sectors.