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Over 1,300 nursing and midwifery university places part of new £2.1m health boost

Medical training programmes vital, says Robin Swann, as package welcomed


Health Minister Robin Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann

Health Minister Robin Swann

Robin Swann has announced a £2.1m education and training investment to boost the health service workforce.

The package includes 1,335 nursing and midwifery university places for 2022/23.

It also covers additional medical specialty and Allied Health Profession (AHP) training posts. AHPs work with people to help them protect and improve their health and wellbeing.

Mr Swann said the 1,335 pre-registration nursing and midwifery training places was the highest annual number ever commissioned by the Department of Health.

“Nursing and midwifery university places were maintained at a record high total of 1,325 in the past two years.

“This year, despite ongoing budgetary pressures and uncertainty, we are able to maintain that figure and indeed increase it by another 10,” the Health Minister said.

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“To put this into context, the total in 2015/16 was 710, which means it has increased by 88% since then.

“This represents a vital investment in the nursing and midwifery workforce of tomorrow.”

The funding package announced today coincides with International Nurses Day.

Mr Swann said he was very aware of the pressures facing members of the nursing and midwifery sector.

According to the most recent Department of Health workforce bulletin, published in February, there were 1,983 nursing vacancies and a further 120 midwife vacancies here at the end of last year.

Mr Swann added: “Sustained investment in education and training is essential to the rebuilding of our health and social care system.”

The £2.1m education and training package includes expansion of medical specialty training posts, and an additional 41 AHP training posts this year.

A further 44 nurses will also be recruited under the International Nurse Recruitment Programme.

The package will be funded through repurposing of existing education and training budget lines.

The expansion in medical training programmes includes specialties identified as critical to delivering priority service commitments.

They include two additional clinical oncology places, three medical oncology places, two radiology places and one paediatric cardiology place.

Two additional places are also being provided in vascular surgery, and one each in transplant surgery, palliative medicine and dermatology.

Chief nursing officer Maria McIlgorm said the staffing boost was much-needed.

“Nurses have been to the fore of our response to Covid-19 and we fully recognise not only how challenging the pandemic period has been, but also the very serious consequences it has had on our workforce,” she said.

“But I want assure my fellow nurses and midwives that we are wholly committed to addressing these challenges and I warmly welcome the increase in student numbers announced by minister Swann today.

“It’s vital that we continue to grow our future workforce and this investment will help us do that.”  

A new campaign developed in collaboration between the chief nursing officers of the UK and Ireland and the RCN Foundation has also launched today.

The ‘Here for Life’ campaign showcases the professionalism, knowledge, competence and expertise of nurses and midwives and the diverse and rewarding opportunities these roles can offer as a career.

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