Exodus of Fermanagh health workers moving south

THE local health service is hemorrhaging experienced professional staff, who are hopping across the border where they are getting “significantly” better pay for doing the same jobs.

The Western Trust has warned of a “challenging” situation in retaining Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) in the local service, with over 40 staff leaving the area to go south over the past year.

Speaking at the March meeting of the Council’s health and social care sub-committee, head of AHP Services at the Trust, Eileen Dolan, explained AHPs were health professionals who cover a range of services such as physiotherapy, radiography, occupational therapy, podiatry, and many more.


“We have 42 AHP staff have moved from the Western Trust to the Republic of Ireland, due in part to a significant difference in salary,” she said.

“This has been particularly challenging as a number of these staff are very experienced and will be very difficult to replace.

“I have escalated this both in Trust and also to our chief AHP officer up in the Department of Health, just to give councillors that reassurance, but as you know, that is a significant number of staff we have lost that have gone elsewhere to the Republic of Ireland.”

Ms Dolan said the Trust was making significant efforts to recruit to AHP posts across the Trust area.

“From April 1, 2023 to February 29, 2024 there were 278 active recruitment exercises for staff.

“I just want to explain, these were for a mix of vacancies, career breaks, and maternity leave. So they were both temporary and permanent recruitment exercises.

“It gives you an idea of the continuing recruitment on an ongoing basis. That was just for that period of ten months, so it’s quite significant.”


AHPs play a vital role in the local health care system, and have been warning wages in the North have been falling behind those elsewhere on these islands for some time.

For example, in January this year local radiographers took to the picket lines to highlight this disparity in pay.

“Radiography in Northern Ireland is a workforce in crisis, and this crisis needs to be addressed urgently and fully,” said a spokesman for the Society of Radiographers.

“Radiography professionals support nine-out-of-10 patients in Health and Social Care Northern Ireland.

“They work in diagnostic services, carrying out X-rays, MRI and CT scans, and in therapeutic services, planning and delivering radiotherapy to cancer patients.

“But levels of pay that have fallen behind other parts of the UK and the Republic of Ireland mean that too few radiographers are being recruited – and many are leaving to work elsewhere.”

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