Figures show that more than one in ten of Northern Ireland’s workforce are employed in the health and social care sector.
The Health and Social Care Workforce Census, published by the Department of Health, shows that nearly 78,000 people work in the sector, making it the single largest workforce in the Northern Ireland.
The number of employees in March 2008, excluding casual staff, has increased by 26% in the past decade.
The census also shows that in the year to March 2008 the number of medical and dental staff, qualified nurses and allied health professionals increased by 1%, while those employed in administration and clerical jobs decreased by 5%.
A drive for efficiency is putting more people into front-line health jobs and less into desk-bound jobs.
Of the overall total nurses, midwives and health visiting staff accounted for a third of workers and there are more nurses per head of population in Northern Ireland than anywhere else in the UK.
Midwives are also under less pressure, with 27 births per midwife compared with 35 in England.
However, the figures also reveal that there was a high turnover of staff among support workers, with 11% leaving and 10% joining.