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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 06:02 GMT 07:02 UK
NI suffering nursing shortage
Northern Ireland has UK's worst waiting lists
Northern Ireland has UK's worst waiting lists
A shortage of theatre nurses is leading to the short notice cancellation of some operations in Northern Ireland.

Figures have revealed there were 36 vacancies for full-time theatre nurses in the province at the end of June.

The problem is seen as one of the reasons why Northern Ireland has the worst hospital waiting lists in the United Kingdom.

One factor in cancelling surgery at short notice, or in not arranging it in the first place, is a shortage of nurses who are trained to work in the operating theatre.


In the past, all nurses had the opportunity to work and have a placement in theatres

Hilary Herron
Royal College of Nursing

Hilary Herron of the Royal College of Nursing said there had long been problems recruiting theatre nurses but a recent change in the overall training regime of nurses had not helped.

"In the past all nurses had the opportunity to work and have a placement in theatres.

"Unfortunately that is not the case nowadays and therefore, I see the difficulty in trying to attract nurses into that area," she said.

The National Association of Theatre Nurses said all nursing students in Northern Ireland should be offered a dedicated theatre placement.

Its spokesperson in the province, Mary McGeough, said that in order to recruit greater numbers of theatre nurses, students had to see the specialities that theatre offered and the contribution it made to patient care.

There are also shortages of nurses to look after patients in intensive care or high dependency after their surgery.

This is also a factor in cutting the number of operations carried out.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's health correspondent Dot Kirby:
"The work is highly skilled, demanding and stressful"
See also:

20 Feb 02 | N Ireland
13 Jun 00 | N Ireland
16 May 02 | Health
04 Feb 02 | Health
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