Hamilton announces 100 extra nurse training places in Northern Ireland

Date published: 29 March 2016

Health Minister Simon Hamilton, MLA, today announced a 15% increase in the annual number of pre-registration nurse training places commissioned in Northern Ireland and the establishment of a new task group on nursing.

Health Minister Simon Hamilton Official

The Minister stated: “I am delighted to be able to announce an increase of 100 pre-registration nurse training places to be available in Northern Ireland from autumn 2016. This increase will take my Department’s annual commission of training places to 745. Nurses are central to the delivery of safe, effective and compassionate care. Even though we have increased the number of front-line nurses and midwives in the HSC by 1,200 over the past four and a half years, I recognise that the demand for nurses across our health system continues to rise.”

The Minister added: “I am deeply impressed by the quality of care provided by our nurses, and of the pre-registration training provided by our partner universities. The close collaborative approach to training adopted by the HSC and the universities consistently produces nurses which, I believe, are among the best in the world. With this in mind I am also announcing the commissioning of a Task Group under the direction of the CNO to which I will appoint a lay chair. This Group will make clear recommendations about the future delivery of nursing and midwifery over the next 10 – 15 years. It will inform the development of new and exciting roles, building on the existing skills of our graduate workforce to lead the transformational changes required to deliver the world class health service to which we all aspire.”

In conclusion, the Minister noted: “This significant investment, funded from the Transformation Fund which I have established, demonstrates my commitment to providing the highest standards of care to our population. This increase in training places, which will take commissions over the 700 mark for the first time since 2009, will be warmly welcomed by the many individuals who I know wish to pursue a career in nursing.”

In a statement the Royal College of Nursing said they were pleased that the Minister recognises the contribution of Nurses and Nursing to the delivery of health and social care in Northern Ireland and that despite significant financial challenges his Department continues to financially support Nurse Education in Northern Ireland. His announcement that the number of nursing students is to be increased will be widely welcomed by the profession.

RCN Northern Ireland Director Janice Smyth said: “We welcome the Minister’s announcement that he is commissioning a "Task Group" for Nursing and Midwifery under the direction of the CNO. The nursing profession is facing unprecedented pressure and the Royal College of Nursing believes that an independently chaired review group is urgently required. This provides an opportunity to ensure an approach that promotes health and wellbeing, identifies and embraces innovative practice and work already undertaken in Northern Ireland and is informed by evidence of best practice here, across the UK and further afield. In response to this announcement the RCN have warmly welcomed the Minister’s ongoing commitments to our health and social care system.”

Notes to editors: 

1. In 2015/16, DHSSPS commissioned 645 pre-registration nursing places across 3 partner universities, Queens’ University Belfast, the Ulster University and the Open University. The 100 places announced will be in addition to these.

2. Students successfully registering on a DHSSPS commissioned course at QUB and UU are eligible for full tuition fee support and an annual bursary.

3 . The course provided at the OU is targeted at staff already employed within the HSC who wish to pursue a career in nursing.

4. 25 of the additional places will be provided at the Open University.

5. Media enquiries about this press release to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0571, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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