Northern Ireland cuts less from post-registration training than threatened

Protests over plans to drastically cut the nurse training budget for Northern Ireland appear to have led to a partial victory.

Protests over plans to drastically cut the nurse training budget for Northern Ireland appear to have led to a partial victory.

The Department of Health aims to reduce the budgets of institutions
by 60%, including the University of Ulster. Picture: Alamy

Nursing Standard reported this week (26) how the country’s Department of Health had decided to reduce the budgets of institutions including the University of Ulster by 60%. The move would affect specialist courses such as training health visitors and district nurses.

However, following widespread condemnation and a public outcry led by RCN Northern Ireland, the department appears to have changed its mind and confirmed £1.3 million will be directed into the post-registration training sector.

Power sharing 

The country is without a functioning government following the collapse of the power sharing executive in January and decisions are being taken solely by permanent secretaries.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health in Northern Ireland said of the additional funding: ‘This will be prioritised to support clinical practice across a range of acute and community areas including health visiting, district nursing and cancer nursing programmes, in line with the department's transformation agenda.

‘The Department of Health is seeking to balance the very many demands and considerations of the wider health and social care system, within the context of a fluid position.'

The spokesperson added: ‘The final revised funding position is possible as a consequence of changes in expenditure needs in other areas and is to be welcomed in view of the importance of continuing to invest in training our workforce.

Sustainable care

‘This is key to being able to deliver a new model of sustainable care.’

Despite the apparent reversal, RCN NI director Janice Smyth remains concerned and points out the budget is still £500,000 short.

She said: ‘The RCN has not been involved in discussions about the education budget for nurses and midwives.’

Ms Smyth said it was the RCN's understanding that £10 million was made available in 2016-2017, but the amount available for the following financial year reduced to £8.27m.


A further reduction of £1.8 million was made, reducing the amount available to £6.47m, she said.

‘In recent days concerns have been raised about the impact of these cuts on the ability of the nursing and midwifery workforce to provide the care required to patients and clients,' Ms Smyth said.

‘The Department of Health has confirmed that £1.3m has been redirected to the nursing and midwifery education budget and anecdotally this leaves a £500,000 deficit.

‘At this point we are not aware of the implications of this shortfall for nursing and midwifery education.’

In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.