Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Workforce Vacancies – March 2015

Date published: 08 September 2015

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety today released details of the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care (HSC) Workforce Vacancies at 31 March 2015 report.

Northern Ireland Health & Social Care Workforce Vacancies

This statistical publication presents an analysis of vacancies actively being recruited to, by occupational group, staff group, organisation, and pay band. In addition consultant specialities and hospital location of medical and dental vacancies are included.


At 31 March 2015, there were a total of 2,235 (2,033.7 whole-time equivalent, or ‘WTE’) permanent vacancies actively being recruited to by HSC organisations. This represents a vacancy rate of 3.6%, based on whole-time equivalent. A post does not have to be unoccupied in order to be counted as a vacancy. HSC organisations may fill certain vacancies on a temporary basis or may forward plan to fill a vacancy where, for example, forthcoming retirements are known. At 31 March 2015, there were also 803 (729.1 WTE) temporary vacancies. Every year HSC organisations experience several thousand leavers from and movements between their organisations, hence the level of vacancies being reported in these publications.

Key Points

  • The overall vacancy rate (of permanent posts that organisations are actively trying to fill) within Health & Social Care increased from 2.3% at March 2014 to 2.8% at September 2014. By March 2015 it had increased to 3.6%.
  • The largest number of current vacancies was within the Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Occupational Family, with 784 (735.9 WTE). This corresponds to a current vacancy rate of 3.8%. Eighty-one per cent (WTE) of Nursing, Midwifery and Health visiting vacancies were for qualified nursing and midwifery staff. This appears consistent with the rate of growth seen in this Occupational Family in the last few years.
  • The highest WTE current vacancy rate was in the Ambulance Occupational Family, with 128 (126.5 WTE) current vacancies for a rate of 10.9%. This was due to an ongoing internal training and recruitment exercise to fill new Emergency Medical Technician posts.
  • The rate of medical vacancies (WTE) increased from 2.6% at 30 September 2014 to 5.3% at 31 March 2015. The number of Consultant vacancies increased from 51 (51.0 WTE) to 112 (111.6 WTE) over the same period. This level of vacancies is consistent with the same time of year in 2014, when there were 114 (110.1 WTE) consultant vacancies.

Notes to editors: 

  1. The NI Health & Social Care Workforce Vacancy Survey is an established survey carried out on a biannual basis. Information is collected directly from HSC organisations.
  2. The report is published online
  3. A current vacancy is a post which, at 31 March 2015, the organisation was actively trying to fill. A long-term vacancy is a post which had been advertised on or prior to 31 December 2014, but remained unfilled at 31 March 2015 despite active recruitment efforts. The vacancy rates are defined as the total whole-time equivalent number of permanent vacancies expressed as a percentage of the total whole-time equivalent staff complement (i.e. permanent vacancies plus staff in post).
  4. Further information on the NI HSC Workforce is available from Public Health Information and Research Branch
  5. Media queries to DHSSPS Press Office on 02890 520074, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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