A top official with the Royal College of Midwives has revealed the Western Trust employs more temporary midwives than other health authorities due to difficulties getting students to relocate over the Glenshane.
Ms Mary Caddell, a regional officer at the RCM, told a recent meeting of the Stormont Health Committee that the use of temporary contracts can have a “destabilising” effect.
Committee member Mark H. Durkan said: “In the Western Trust, there are a lot of midwives on temporary contracts. I cannot for the life of me understand why.”
Ms Caddell explained the Trust’s relative remoteness is part of the problem.
She said that while it’s alright to have some temporary workers, such contracts can have a destabilising effect.
“Some temporary contracts are permissible and OK because they cover long-term sick, maternity leave, a project or secondment, but when they are the establishment, they are not OK because if there is a substantive post it should be recruited into and funded.
“Some of the issues are financial, some are geographical, and some are getting the right person for the right job,” she said.
“It is complex, but it tends to have a higher level of temporary appointments than other trusts. Anecdotally, I do not have the figures to give you as a comparison, but that is my experience. Some of them are explained and others are down to not having the funding, but it is something that we keep high on our priority list.
“It is quite destabilising because temporary contracts will not get you a mortgage or a car loan, and you will lose that wonderful skills set.
“We struggle to recruit student midwives unless they are from the area because of the travel up the Glenshane pass. “There are lots of issues with that. It is not just about the calibre of person you recruit; there is also the question of why pay someone doing the same job more because they work on a different piece of soil, and that is a value statement for people.”