Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Workforce Planning Review

Part of Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 10:45 am on 13th October 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Fearghal McKinney Fearghal McKinney Social Democratic and Labour Party 10:45 am, 13th October 2015

I thank the Member for his intervention. We have all been receiving correspondence in this regard; I am sure that the Member has too. While it is not within the confines of this discussion, the new terms of that contract would bring about a complete removal of the GP training service, cut junior doctors' pay by 30% or 40% and stretch the working week at a time when there is a shortage of GPs, A & E and psychiatry trainee doctors, which once again underlines the irony here and the fact that there is not proper strategic planning. We, as a party — I am sure that other parties are too — are concerned that the proposed changes will dissuade medical students from going into the profession, or from staying here if they have gone into it, at a time when we need more of them.

The consensus is clear. These views point in only one direction, which is towards a plan that is simply not being implemented. I should know. I have spent the last two years constantly asking questions about its implementation, only to be fobbed off with obfuscation. First, we were given assurances that it was being implemented and that there were targets in the plan. Then, as the questions piled up, the evidence conveniently disappeared. In the end we had the Donaldson review, which basically called it as it was: a failure of leadership, a failure in commissioning and a failure to deliver. It is the workers, the patients and the public who suffer as a result, and they all deserve better.

The response of the Department and the absentee Minister is even more concerning. During the inquiry, the Committee heard that the plan is not so much a plan any more, rather it is a philosophy. We all love to have a philosophy, but, if you do not have some strategic plan to work to, you are going nowhere. The Health Minister, according to himself, has diluted it even further. It is now about the "principles of TYC" and some vague ambition for world-class healthcare. I remind the Minister that the TYC document made one very important point. It said that to fail to plan for the future would lead to unplanned and haphazard change that will not be in the best interests of patients. So it has come to pass.