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QNI and RCN ‘shocked’ as £1m slashed from Ulster University’s nursing school

Cutting £1 million from a Northern Ireland university’s specialist nurse training budget is ‘a risk to the quality and safety of patient care’.
University_Ulster

Cutting 1 million from a Northern Ireland (NI) universitys specialist nurse training budget is a risk to the quality and safety of patient care.

The university is writing to the health department to warn of 'serious consequences' for nursing provision Picture: Alamy

The Queens Nursing Institute (QNI) says it is difficult to make sense of the decision by the NI Department of Health to reduce The Ulster Universitys funding by 60%.

Its school of nursing trains qualified nurses to be health visitors, community or district nurses.

The QNI said the cuts will mean that only 20 of the expected 60 new health visitors and half the district nurses will be able to take up training.

Its chief executive Crystal Oldman said: We are truly shocked by the news.

Without training for district nurse team leaders there is a risk to the quality

Cutting £1 million from a Northern Ireland (NI) university’s specialist nurse training budget is ‘a risk to the quality and safety of patient care’.

University_Ulster
The university is writing to the health department to warn of 'serious consequences' 
for nursing provision      Picture: Alamy

The Queen’s Nursing Institute (QNI) says it is ‘difficult to make sense’ of the decision by the NI Department of Health to reduce The Ulster University’s funding by 60%.

Its school of nursing trains qualified nurses to be health visitors, community or district nurses.

The QNI said the cuts will mean that only 20 of the expected 60 new health visitors and half the district nurses will be able to take up training.

Its chief executive Crystal Oldman said: ‘We are truly shocked by the news.

‘Without training for district nurse team leaders there is a risk to the quality and safety of patient care, and a risk in attracting nurses to a career where there is poor investment into appropriate levels of staff training.

‘Making these cuts now, without consultation on the potential impact, will put workforce and service delivery plans into disarray.’

Lack of consultation

RCN Northern Ireland is also angry about the lack of consultation and its director Janice Smyth called the decision ‘hugely disappointing’.

She added: ‘It is not just these specialist areas. I understand that advanced life support and paediatric life support training programmes are not going to be commissioned this year.

‘This is purely a financial decision to balance the books.’

The country is without a health minister due to the failure of political parties to form a government following the collapse of the power-sharing executive in January.

The decision to cut the university’s budget was made by the permanent secretary of the DH.

Ms Smyth added: ‘I don’t believe a health minister elected by the people of Northern Ireland would have made this decision.

‘It is reversible, but we need to get round a table with the department and ask them if they understand the implications of the decision.’

Serious consequences

In a BBC radio interview, the university’s head of life and health sciences Carol Curran said: ‘It will be difficult to manage a cut of this magnitude without any prior notice or warning.

She revealed the university is writing to the department to warn them of serious consequences for nursing provision and added: ‘43 GP practices that were expecting to get a health visitor will not now receive one.

A DH spokesperson said: ‘The current financial climate has necessitated taking difficult decisions to balance the many demands on the wider health and social care system within the constraints of the financial resource available.’

The spokesperson added that the budget for nursing, midwifery and allied health professional education and training for 2017-18 has ‘been prioritised to fund areas of clinical practice that are strategically important and which minimise impact on direct care’.


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