Northern Ireland

45% of north’s healthcare workers now in private sector

People Before Profit MLA says he’s ‘alarmed’ by revelation

The fatal accident inquiry is investigating the deaths of three newborns
Almost 60,000 healthcare workers are employed by private health companies in the north (Alamy Stock Photo)

The expansion of private healthcare in the north has been described as a “pernicious and worrying trend” after it emerged that almost 45% of the sector’s total workforce are employed outside of the NHS.

Finance Minister Caoimhe Archibald this week revealed that almost 60,000 healthcare workers are employed by private companies compared to 73,750 in the public sector.

The official figures were in a response to a written assembly question from People Before Profit’s Gerry Carroll and were drawn from Nisra’s quarterly employment survey up to the end of December last year.

People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll. Picture: Cliff Donaldson
People Before Profit MLA Gerry Carroll

Mr Carroll said he was “alarmed” by the figures.

He said the private sector “should have no part in the provision of healthcare”.

“Here we have 59,900 workers that could and should be offered the opportunity to work in the NHS with better terms, conditions and pay,” he said.

“These figures point to a pernicious and worrying trend that is seeing our health service stripped for parts by private healthcare providers.”

The West Belfast MLA said the same quarterly employment survey confirmed that a majority of social and domiciliary care is now in the private sector.

Mr Carroll said the executive “need to take healthcare provision completely out of private hands if we are to ever fix our health service”.