Belfast Telegraph

Belfast health trust has 1,200 unfilled vacancies

By Henry Vaughan

A health trust in Northern Ireland has more than 1,200 unfilled vacancies, an investigation has revealed.

An ITV News probe across England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland asked every acute trust to disclose how many staff posts were unfilled.

Some NHS hospital trusts have more than 1,000 staff vacancies while others have left crucial roles unfilled for up to two years.

The biggest gaps were in nursing at each one of the 92 trusts that responded to freedom of information requests, the broadcaster reported.

The figures reveal the largest number of vacancies are at Barts in London, which has 1,732 unfilled roles, but is also the biggest hospital trust in the country.

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, which manages eight of the city's hospitals, has 1,236 unfilled vacancies, with one role first advertised more than 18 months ago.

A spokesperson for the Belfast Trust said last night: "Regarding the overall level of vacancies, as Belfast Trust has more than 22,000 employees, the effects of nationwide skills shortages are more stark.

"Simply put, we have more posts to fill."

Some trusts reported gaps in their intensive care units, such as Epsom and St Helier, which has 36 vacant roles.

Others reported that some jobs had gone unfilled for months or even years, including Derby Teaching Hospitals, where 44 vacant nursing roles and 12 consultant posts were first advertised at least six months ago.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told ITV: "We are rightly saying we want to have much higher standards of care after the tragedy of Mid Staffs, we cannot allow hospitals to skimp on nursing staff.

"As a result of those changes, we now have 15,000 more nurses in our hospital wards, 6,500 more doctors.

"But you can't magic up doctors and nurses, they need to be trained, we've increased the number of doctors we're training, we've made big reforms to nurse training."

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