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Nursing body warns of staff crisis in care homes as jobs unfilled

By Staff Reporter

Published 08/12/2015

Janice Smyth
Janice Smyth

More than 350 nursing posts remain vacant in the independent sector across Northern Ireland, leading to concerns there is now a "crisis in care".

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) gave the warning after a survey published yesterday showed that in July 2015 the private sector had 374 full-time registered nurse posts empty.

Almost all - 361 - of the vacancies were in nursing homes and 41% had been vacant for longer than six months. It says the results of a survey of the registered nursing workforce confirms that private nursing homes are having "severe difficulty" recruiting and retaining nurses.

Janice Smyth, director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, said it has been raising concerns about inadequate workforce planning for some time.

"The independent nursing home sector is in crisis," she warned.

"The sector is facing a significant threat from under-funding and an inability to recruit and retain the required number of registered nurses. As a result the people who live in private nursing homes, many of them vulnerable and many of them older people, may lose their home."

Ms Smyth added: "The independent sector is the sole provider of nursing home care for over 12,000 people in Northern Ireland, yet its nursing workforce requirements have never been addressed when determining the number of nurses required as part of regional workforce planning.

"We simply do not have enough nurses in Northern Ireland and, despite significant efforts by the independent sector to recruit staff, they cannot retain them as they are being constantly recruited by HSC trusts."

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