The South Belfast MLA was speaking after it was revealed the nurses would be recruited due to the shortage of nurses, which is currently estimated to be around 10 per cent below capacity.
“We are fortunate in Northern Ireland we have already recruited hundreds of workers from the Philippines and elsewhere, without which our health and social care service would simply collapse. There is little doubt this new planned recruitment is needed.
“What this demonstrates, however, is a proper and comprehensive workforce plan is needed, not least given the potential limitations on recruitment if the UK proceeds to leave the EU. We need to consider more fundamentally what needs the service will have as people continue to live longer and have more complex conditions, whether more investment is needed in training nurses and other health professionals here in Northern Ireland, and how we will plan for a time the UK becomes potentially less attractive as a location to foreign professionals if there are restrictions on movement of labour around the EU.
“As ever, this is just a further demonstration of the urgency of transformation of the service, and the need to have a Minister in post making key decisions for future planning to ensure we have the workforce necessary to meet demand into the next decade.”