My view: Nurses in Northern Ireland are not being listened to
Nursing staff have consistently raised concerns about unprecedented pressures they are facing and believe a culture exists whereby their concerns are being ignored.
In 2013 a National Audit Office report in Northern Ireland identified that the two most common causes for sickness absence in health and social care were mental ill-health and musculo-skeletal conditions, and costs associated with sickness absence were nearly £73 million in 2010-2011.
Currently, 18% of employment relations cases being handled by the RCN in Northern Ireland are related to ill-health or injury at work.
There are three aspects of sickness absence that are a matter of concern: the human cost and impact that sickness absence has on nurses and families; the adverse impact on the nursing workforce and the ability to provide appropriate care to patients; the cost to the public purse.
The RCN has been raising these issues formally with the DHSSPS since June 2013.
It is disappointing to see these latest figures, which show no improvement whatsoever.
Behind these statistics are human beings, individuals who came to work in our health and social services because they wanted to provide care and services to patients.
- Janice Smyth is a representative of the Royal College of Nursing