THE number of nursing degree places throughout the country is to be reduced by more than 300 next year, according to internal correspondence seen by the Irish Examiner.
The cuts will see the number of places in pre-registration nursing degree programmes reduced to 1,570 next year, a 16% drop nationwide.
In total, 310 places will be cut from October 2009, with the university and institute of technology sectors losing 15% and 22% respectively.
According to the correspondence, nursery and midwifery departments in NUI Galway and the University of Limerick look set to be hit hardest and will lose a staggering 28% and 29% of their nursing intake from October 2009.
NUI Galway will lose 40 places while Sligo will lose 20 places.
Trinity College is to lose a total of 19 places, 10 of which are in the area of intellectual disability nursing.
This amounts to 7.5% of the university’s total nursing intake.
Elsewhere, University College Cork will lose 50 places, University College Dublin 16 places, Dublin City University 25 places and the Centre of Nursing and Midwifery Education Sligo 20 places.
A funding initiative, allowing nurses and midwives trained under the apprenticeship and diploma models and undertaking the Access and BNS/BMS part-time degree, to have their course fees paid, is also to be discontinued by the HSE for all entrants from January 1, 2009.
A spokesperson for the HSE confirmed the figures were accurate.
General secretary of the Irish Nurses Organisation Liam Doran said the cuts would make the health service even more reliant on overseas nurses.
“We are heavily reliant on overseas nurses as it is and we need to be self-sufficient. These reductions are shortsighted and while they might save pennies in the short term they will cost pounds in the long term,” he said.
Labour’s spokeswoman on health Jan O’Sullivan said the cuts would set the country back decades.
“We had massive health cuts in the 1980s and the country took an awful long time to recover from them. This issue needs to be immediately re-examined,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan said six Irish financial institutions had signed up for the Government’s two-year bank guarantee.
They are Allied Irish Bank, Bank of Ireland, Anglo Irish Bank, Irish Life & Permanent, Irish Nationwide and the EBS.
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