Health service employment, as measured by the quarterly health service personnel census, increased by 5,377 in whole-time equivalent, WTE, terms in 2002. This increase represents net additions to the health service workforce, including both new posts created and recruitment to posts previously unfilled. The Deputy may wish to note that within this overall increase, employment in nursing grades increased by 1,966 WTEs, or more than 6%, and employment in medical and dental grades increased by 489 WTEs, or nearly 8%. Substantial increases also took place in the health and social care professional grades and other health service grade categories providing direct patient services to the public. Information in respect of the increases in all grade categories is currently being compiled by my Department, taking into account changes in classifications which took place in the course of 2002. This information, together with comprehensive information for 2003, will be made available to the Deputy as soon as it is finalised.
As far as the current year is concerned, the letter of determination issued by my Department to each health board or authority for 2004 stated that employment requirements of specific services, consistent with planned activity levels, should be met through the management of the approved employment complement. This includes the appropriate staffing mix and the precise grades of staff employed in the approved health workforce. The first quarterly employment report for 2004, setting out the composition of the health service workforce at the end of March 2004, will be available in June 2004.