Health Agency Spending Is Another Stormont Privatisation Racket

People Before Profit Cllr Shaun Harkin said, 

“The staffing crisis in the health service created by Stormont has created a financial scandal on a scale greater than the RHI racket. 

The Western Trust spent £42 million on agency staff last year while a total of £254 million was spent by Trust’s across the North. A stunning £838 million has been spent on agencies in a five-year period. 

We agree with health watchdogs and trade unions who’ve said this spending is incredibly poor in value and another example of privatisation designed to destroy the NHS. 

A network of connected staffing agency bosses have become very wealthy while health service workers are forced to threaten strike action to win a deserved pay increase and for action on workplace pressures.

The dependence on agencies is a direct result of budget cuts to nurse training places and the complete lack of workplace planning by the Stormont Executive. There are more than 3000 nursing vacancies and the numbers keep climbing. The Stormont Executive agreed to take immediate action to address workforce shortages but nothing has been done. 

The all-out health service strike in 2019 was for pay parity and to end the staffing crisis. Frustration amongst health service workers is becoming supercharged over the failure to act on staffing, insulting pay offers and exhaustion from over a year of pandemic response.

Trade unions have been the voice of opposition to this. Our network of trade union representatives is growing and are on the ground working towards people power resistance to save the NHS. 

People power is the key to defending the health service for everyone who depends on it and to win respect for all health and social care workers. Without people power action the Stormont Executive parties will continue to privatise the NHS and undercut working conditions for all health staff. 

We need to move towards direct action and resistance involving people from all backgrounds and communities who believe the NHS must be protected.”