Press Release

Minister announces Degree Level Education for Nurses

£176 million capital building and equipment programme approved

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin TD, today (1 November 2001) announced that the Government has approved his proposals for the implementation of a four-year pre-registration nursing degree programme next year.

Minister Martin said: “The new nursing degree programme, to replace the current three-year diploma programme, will put the education of nurses on a par with that of other health care professionals. The nursing profession has long been seeking such parity, and the Government´s decision implements a central recommendation of the Commission on Nursing. Educating nurses to degree level will enable them to develop their clinical skills to a greater extent and to respond to future challenges in health care, for the benefit of patients and client groups.”

Building Programme for Nurse Education

The Government has approved the Minister´s proposals for a capital building and equipment programme costing £176 million to facilitate the full integration of nursing students into the higher education sector. Thirteen higher education institutions throughout the country will be involved in the delivery of the nursing degree programme from the start of the academic year 2002/3. Applications for places on the programme will be made through the Central Applications Office (CAO).

“The scale of this investment in nursing education demonstrates the Government´s firm commitment to the full implementation of the Report of the Commission on Nursing.” said Minister Martin.

Extra Training Places

The Minister also announced Government approval for an additional 372 nursing training places over the next four years. A total of 1,640 places will be available on the new nursing degree programme from next year. This is an all-time record, and is a key element of the Minister’s overall strategy for ensuring that sufficient home-trained nurses are produced for our health services into the future.

Sponsorship Scheme for Health Service Workers

The Government has also approved the Minister´s proposals for a new sponsorship scheme for experienced care assistants working in the public health service who wish to train as nurses. This scheme will be introduced next year to coincide with the implementation of the nursing degree programme. Up to 40 sponsorships will be available annually. Successful applicants will continue to be paid their normal salary throughout the four years of the nursing degree programme in return for a commitment to work as nurses for their health service agency for a period of five years following completion of the programme.

“This new scheme will enable suitable applicants, who are already involved in the delivery of care under the supervision of nurses, to undertake nursing education and training without suffering financial hardship. The sponsorship scheme is the latest in a series of initiatives developed over the past couple of years to recruit and retain nurses in our public health care system.” said the Minister.