The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has urged the Government to increase the number of publicly funded higher education places for nurses and midwives in order to meet staffing shortfalls.
The call comes following the findings of a Government-commissioned report which said the intake of such students will need to double over the next 20 years.
The INMO said the increases must be prioritised in order to ensure the State has a sufficient number of nurses and midwives to meet the needs of a growing population.
“The INMO has long warned that Ireland’s health service will be under even more severe pressure unless the amount of undergraduate nursing places is increased,” the group’s general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said.
“The Government have ignored their obligation in this regard for some time.
“We must now ensure that any additional places that are provided are publicly funded. It is not enough to just provide the college places, we must ensure that the Irish health service is an attractive and safe place to work upon graduation. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the Class of 2022.
“Alternative pathways to nursing and midwifery must be prioritised. Additional places must be reserved for those who complete pre-nursing courses in our colleges of further education. It is not enough to provide sufficient undergraduate places. Safe staffing levels must be provided for in teaching locations in order to allow for safe and appropriate learning,” she added.
While Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the State must continue to recruit staff from abroad, she added we must also “train more ourselves”.
“We train far fewer nurses and midwives than we need, but we know that thousands more want to join the nursing family.
“Over 4,363 students put a nursing or midwifery course as their first choice on their CAO this year. We provide 1,700 places.
“The demand is there for our profession but we must ensure that nursing and midwifery is an attractive career pathway for young people by fast-tracking recruitment and retention measures.”