Agency spend issue should long ago have been dealt with, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has responded to the Department of Health’s instruction that spending on agency staff must be reduced by £15 million by emphasising that the issue has long been known and that Northern Ireland is unique in not having addressed it.

Paula Bradshaw

The South Belfast MLA said: “We are now facing an emergency cut of £15 million to staffing when we had the opportunity years ago to deal with this issue.

“Other parts of the UK have dealt with this issue since 2015, either by regulating agency pay or through safe staffing legislation which prohibits pay to agencies above a certain level.

“Yet again, we are seeing that Northern Ireland opted for inaction, and now has to act in the short term to meet budget restraints.

“Once again we see here the cost, literally, of the Executive failing to operate from 2017 to 2020 and again since March, when safe staffing legislation could have been put in place to deal with these issues, boost morale among staff, and put the Health Service on a firmer financial footing.

“Those who fail to meet the responsibility which comes with the mandate are failing those who rely on the Health Service. Heading into a winter of economic crisis, it is time those holding up the functioning of our democratic institutions recognised that the penalty for their refusal to do the work they were elected to do will be paid by the people, not political opponents.”