Bradley Calls for Action Following Nursing Exodus

Peter Bayne


Peter Bayne


Sunday 22 August 2021 9:24

SDLP MLA Sinéad Bradley for South Down has expressed alarm amid reports that 533 nurses have left Health Trusts since the start of the year.

It has been reported that many have joined agencies with others leaving as a result of resignation, retirement, or new positions within the health service. A total of 60 nurses left the Southern Trust during this time with 5 from the ICU included in these figures.

Ms Bradley said: “The loss of so many nurses is hugely damaging for our health service. Especially as the NHS is already struggling with rising Covid cases as well as the seasonal demand which will begin to impact as we edge towards the autumn and winter months. The service was also dealing with the same issues before Covid, therefore the loss of so many experienced staff is cause for alarm.

The Nursing Union, Unison have said how this ‘exodus’ reflects the serious pressure that nurses are under working within a health service that is understaffed and under-resourced. They highlight the fact that, a significant number would have chosen to leave the NHS to work for nursing agencies, citing pay as a significant factor.

The South Down MLA continued: “I call on the Executive and Minister Swann to treat this alarming development as a priority. At the moment we are in a position whereby years of poor pay and work conditions right across the system is taking a toll on nurses, who have simply had enough. Now we need to develop a clear strategy for recruitment as well as taking immediate steps to improve pay and conditions, so that the NHS can retain these valuable staff members rather than lose them to agencies.

It is ironic that the health service has had to turn to nursing agencies which will often charge a premium to provide cover staff. These are funds, which could and should be spent on improving pay and conditions for vital staff such as nurses. This is a complicated issue which has been many years in the making but it needs a swift and effective response otherwise this could have a devastating impact on the NHS and ultimately on patient care in South Down and across wider society.”

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