200% hike in nurse places: O’Neill

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill. (Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.)
Health Minister Michelle O'Neill. (Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.)

Health Minister Michelle McIlveen has ratcheted up the number of student nursing places here in order to help address ongoing vacancies in the Western Trust.

The Minister has revealed the Executive will have increased the annual number of training places by 200 per cent by 2017/18.

“We have taken steps to increase the number of nurses qualifying from our local universities. In 2016/17 we increased the annual number of training places available by 100, and I have given a commitment to increase annual commissions by a further 100 from 2017/18,” the Minister stated.

“That means that next year we will have a total of 300 more nursing students than this time last year. “By 2019 we will be seeing around 700 fully qualified nurses ready to enter the workforce and around 800 in 2020,” she added.

The steps are part of ongoing recruitment efforts to get more nurses to locate to the Western Trust area.

The Minister said: “The Western Health and Social Care Trust are actively recruiting in respect of 78 current Nursing vacancies. “The Trust pursues a timely recruitment process to ensure that any vacant nursing posts are filled as soon as possible.

“Where there are short-term vacancies due to sickness, etc, temporary replacements are provided.”

The Minister said nurses have been recruited across Europe and Asia.

“The Business Services Organisation (BSO) has been commissioned by my Department to coordinate an international nurse recruitment campaign on behalf of all of the Trusts across the North. Six recruitment campaigns have already taken place during 2016 in The Philippines, Italy Greece and Romania,” she said.