Northern Ireland’s health regulator has formally notified the health department there is a serious nursing shortage across hospital and community services.

It is the first time the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority has issued such a notice.

It was its duty to inform the department, it said, after identifying a number of failings in almost every area it had inspected.

The department said it acknowledged that there is a shortage.

Olive Macleod, the RQIA’s chief executive, said a serious nursing shortage was leading to “less effective care for patients”.

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