Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Active Recruitment Statistics & Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Workforce Statistics March 2024

Date published: 22 May 2024

The Department of Health today released details of Northern Ireland Health and Social Care (HSC) vacancies actively being recruited and HSC staff in post as at 31 March 2024.

These statistical publications present analysis of active recruitment vacancies and active staff in post by staff group and HSC organisation, and includes trend information.

The Northern Ireland HSC Workforce publication covers the majority of HSC hospital, community and social services workforce. Bank/sessional staff are excluded, as are members of staff on career breaks, Chairpersons/Members of Boards and those recorded with less than 0.03 WTE. Domiciliary care staff have also been excluded, as their recorded whole-time equivalent currently does not reflect their contribution to the service. 

The Northern Ireland HSC Active Recruitment Statistics publication covers any position that is currently with the recruitment team and being actively recruited to, including those going through pre-employment checks, up to the point of a start date being agreed.

Key Points

  • At 31 March 2024, the HSC workforce stood at 65,984 whole-time equivalent (WTE) (excluding staff on career breaks, bank staff, Domiciliary Care workers, staff with a WTE of less than 0.03, Chairs/Members of Boards and Out of Hours GPs).  This represented an increase of 2.0% (1,296 WTE) from 31 March 2023, and a 13.3% increase (7,738 WTE) since 31 March 2019.
  • Just over a quarter of the HSC workforce at 31 March 2024 was in the Registered Nursing & Midwifery staff group (17,746 WTE, 26.9%).  This staff group reported an increase of 2.2% (384 WTE) from 31st March 2023, and an increase of 16.0% (2,443 WTE) since 31 March 2019.
  • The Belfast HSC Trust had the largest workforce, with 19,047 WTE at 31 March 2024. This level is 1.3% higher than 31 March 2023, and 5.9% higher than 31 March 2019.  All regional HSC Trusts reported an increase in WTE staff since 31 March 2019.
  • At 31 March 2024, the leaving rate of HSC staff was 7.7% during the prior year.  This is a decrease from the rate of 8.4% reported in 2023.  The joining rate of HSC staff at 31 March 2024 was 9.3%. This is an increase from the rate of 8.8% reported in 2023. 
  • At 31 March 2024, there were 5,380 vacancies actively being recruited across HSC in Northern Ireland.  This equated to an active recruitment vacancy rate of 6.4%.
  • The total number of vacancies under active recruitment at 31 March 2024 (5,380) is 27.2% lower than at 31 March 2023 (7,392) and 24.1% lower than at 31 March 2019 (7,091).
  • At 31 March 2024, the Social Services staff group made up the highest proportion of all vacancies actively being recruited, at 25.7% (1,381 vacancies).  The second highest proportion of vacancies was in the Registered Nursing & Midwifery staff group, at 21.0% (1,129 vacancies), and a further 8.6% (465 vacancies) were in the Nursing & Midwifery Support staff group.
  • The Belfast HSC Trust had the highest number of vacancies actively being recruited at 31 March 2024 (1,536).  All regional HSC Trusts reported a decrease in vacancies between 31 March 2023 and 31st March 2024, with the largest annual percentage decrease in the Northern HSC Trust (42.8%), followed by Western (32.5%), Belfast (25.0%), Southern (21.6%), and South Eastern (18.8%) HSC Trusts. 

Notes to editors: 

  1. These publications are available on the Departmental website at:
  1. Information in the HSC Workforce publication was collected from the Human Resources, Payroll, Travel and Subsistence database which is maintained by the various HSC organisations. The analyses presented exclude bank staff (who fill staffing shortfalls to maintain service delivery) and domiciliary care staff. These staff were excluded because, due to the variable nature of their work, their recorded whole-time equivalent currently does not reflect their contribution to the service. Figures also exclude staff on career breaks, non-Trust staff and Chairpersons/Members of Boards.
  1. WTE (Whole Time equivalent) is calculated by aggregating the total number of hours staff in a particular grade are contracted to work and dividing by the standard hours for that grade. In this way, part-time staff are converted into an equivalent number of 'whole-time' staff.
  1. Information in the HSC Active Recruitment Statistics publication represents the number of vacancies actively being recruited and does not indicate the whole time equivalent (WTE) for these positions.  The data includes both permanent and temporary positions.  The figures do not indicate a measure of posts that are unfilled by permanent or fixed-term staff, and do not include posts not actively being recruited to at the specific point in time, including those outside the bounds of the definition e.g. those that have not reached recruitment stage yet.    
  1. An active recruitment vacancy is any position that is currently with the recruitment team and being actively recruited to.  This will include those going through pre-employment checks, up to the point of a start date being agreed.  Once a start date has been agreed with both parties (i.e. manager and applicant) this will no longer be classed as a vacancy.  Vacancies that are on hold by managers are not included.   

6.Further information on the NI HSC Workforce is available from:

Workforce Section
Project Support Analysis Branch
Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety
Annexe 2, Castle Buildings
Stormont BT4 3SQ
Tel: 028 90 522493
Email: workforce.statistics@health-ni.gov.uk
Internet: www.health-ni.gov.uk/topics/dhssps-statistics-and-research/workforce-statistics

7. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk.

8. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt.

9. The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The Duty Press Officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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