The health service recruited more managers and administrators than health and social care professionals in the year to March, according to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

Addressing the Fórsa Health and Welfare Divisional Conference, Mr Donnelly confirmed that 8,000 additional staff were recruited to the public health service in that 12-month period.

Of those, 1,300 (16%) were managers or administrators, but health and social care professionals accounted for just 1,200 - 15% of recruits.

The Minister acknowledged that health and social care professionals make up 25% of clinical workers via 26 different professions dealing with diagnosis, therapy and social care domains.

He also pledged to maximise the recruitment of healthcare graduates in 2021, and held out the hope of recognition of the contribution made by health care workers when the pandemic ends.

"The pandemic is ongoing, but I am hopeful that with your help, its darkest days have passed," Mr Donnelly told delegates.

"I am hopeful that within a few months from today, our vaccine rollout will bring us to a place where we will be able to look back at the pandemic, to take stock of healthcare workers' huge contributions, and to put in place appropriate measures to recognise these."

He described the role of Fórsa's 30,000 health service members during the pandemic as "heroic" and "phenomenal".

Responding to the Minister's speech, Head of Fórsa's Health and Welfare Division Eamon Donnelly rejected suggestions that that the health service was "bloated" with an excess of managers.

Mr Donnelly said these were the very same managers who at the onset of the pandemic worked 70 or 80 hours per week every week without even access to compensatory rest.

Fórsa General Secretary Kevin Callinan said that while it was gratifying to see a greater appreciation of the contribution of roles with the health service, successful outcomes depended on the effectiveness of the whole system.

"The recent cyber attack underlines the importance of support services and what can happen if they are subject to chronic under-investment," he told delegates.