‘One in 10’ work in NI health sector

More than one in 10 of Northern Ireland’s workforce is employed in the health and social care sector. Almost 78,000 people, including casual staff, are employed in health – making it NI’s single largest workforce.

The Health and Social Care Workforce Census shows that the drive for efficiency means more people in front-line jobs and less in desk jobs.

The largest group within the workforce was nurses, midwives and health visitors who accounted for a third.

The figures, published by the Department of Health, show that in the year to March 2008 the number of medical and dental staff, qualified nurses and allied health professionals increased by 1%.

However, those employed in administration and clerical jobs decreased by 5%.

Over the same period, the number of ambulance staff increased by 5%.


By contrast, there were just 3,823 medical and dental staff, excluding GPs, working in hospital and community settings – just over a third of them were consultants.

Northern Ireland employs more nurses per head of population than anywhere else in the UK – 78 per 10,000 population, in England the figures are 58 per 10,000.

There are 27 births per midwife compared to 35 in England.

Support service staff recorded the highest turnover in the last year – some 11% left and 10 people joined.

Some 105 people left their jobs in administration but there was a 5% joining rate, showing many of those going were not being replaced.

The overall vacancy rate dropped from 3% to 2% in the year to March 2008.