ADMINISTRATION staff outnumber doctors three to one in the Western Trust whilst only 5.7 per cent of all staff employed by the local health service perform front line medical functions, it has been revealed.
County Londonderry health campaigner Hugh McCloy said the figures showed front line services were being neglected by health trusts and the Health Minister and that whilst there has been a drive since the Review of Public Administration (RPA) to reduce administration clearly more can be done across the health service.
The Western Trust has the second lowest ratio of total staff employed as doctors in Northern Ireland with 3.1 clerics for every one doctor.
According to the Trust’s own estimate of its full staff complement this means around 713 of 12,500 employees are doctors.
Health Minister Edwin Poots revealed that the Trust has the second highest ratio of administration staff to front line medical staff in Northern Ireland: only in the Northern Trust are there more administrators per doctor (3.3 to 1).
Equally, it has the second highest proportion of administration staff in terms of its overall workforce with 17.8 per cent. Only Belfast (18 per cent) has more administration staff.
Mr McCloy of the Save the Mid campaign claimed the figures showed front line services were being reglected.
He commented: “The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) have proudly stated that they are the only Department to have fully implemented RPA, this however has shown to be a farce with these quoted figures and ever increasing management costs across every health trust, Poots must now question why it is costing so much damage to health and answer why he is paying £2k a day for business consults instead of spending it on more medical staff.”
Foyle MLA Mark H. Durkan said there was a perception that the local health service was top heavy with adminstration staff, however, he warned that cuts to clerical and administration workers were having an impact on front line services.
He told the Sentinel: “There has been a perception for some time that some areas of the health service here have been top heavy with admin.”
But he said that any notion of slashing administration to boost front line services would be wrong-headed.
“It’s important that we recognise the role of admin,” he commented. “There has been a reduction in the number of administration over the past number of years and this has actually resulted in doctors and nurses being tied up with more paperwork and having less time to focus on front line services. There needs to be a balance.”
The Health Minister revealed the new figures for the Western Trust in response to an Assembly Question.
He was asked to detail the ratio of administrative staff to front-line medical staff in each Health and Social Care Trust area.
Mr Poots replied: “It is not appropriate to compare the ratio of administrative staff to front-line medical staff (i.e. doctors).
“The proportion of staff employed for administrative roles against total staff is similar across all Trusts, however, Belfast Trust provide many regional medical services and hence have the highest percentage of medical staff against total staff. Not all Trusts are hospital oriented, and those Trusts with a higher emphasis on community services tend to have a lower percentage of medical staff against total staff.
“Those Trusts will therefore have a higher ratio of administrative staff to medical staff, and Trusts with a greater emphasis on hospital services will have a lower ratio of administrative staff to medical staff.”