The health and social care sector in Northern Ireland has seen employee numbers soar over the past decade, with the industry accounting for more the one in 10 of all workers, it has been revealed.
Health and social care now makes up the single largest workforce in the province, with almost 78,000 workers. The figure falls to around 67,000 after excluding casual staff, but is still 26% up on 10 years earlier.
Fewer people are to be put in jobs behind a desk and more in frontline healthcare positions as part of an efficiency drive, the Department of Health said.
The Health and Social Care Workforce Census showed that while numbers employed in administration and clerical jobs fell 5% in the year to March 31 2008, medical and dental staff, qualified nurses and allied health professionals increased by 1% and ambulance staff were up 5%.
Nurses, midwives and health visiting staff accounted for a third of the workforce, but there were just 3,823 medical and dental staff, excluding GPs, working in hospital and community settings.