Belfast Telegraph

Budget cuts to nursing training eased by £1.3m

By Linda Stewart

A partial U-turn on sweeping budget cuts planned for specialist nurse training by the Department of Health has been welcomed.

Last week the department announced advanced courses at Ulster University and Queen's would face a £1.8 million shortfall, a cut of 58%.

The universities and Unite trade union had warned of a drastic impact on healthcare.

It is understood a budget of £10m was requested for nurse training, but the department had approved only £8.2m. Of the £1.8m shortfall, around £1m would have hit specialist training for nurses.

Now the department has announced funding of £1.3m will be added to the budget for training for post-registration nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals. It said: "The final revised funding position is possible as a consequence of changes in expenditure needs in other areas, and is to be welcomed in view of the importance of continuing to invest in training our workforce. This is key to being able to deliver a new model of sustainable care."

SDLP health spokesman Mark H Durkan said the fiasco underscored the urgent need to re-establish power-sharing with directly accountable ministers.

Queen's University urged the department to fully reverse the cuts, adding that its School of Nursing and Midwifery faces a £0.5m cut to its specialist practice programmes, leading to a 50% reduction in student places.

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