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Government Considers Next Steps to Increase Number of Healthcare College Places

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly have announced a number of options to expand college places for healthcare.

The Higher Education Authority was tasked by the Department of Further and Higher Education to establish how additional capacity might be provided in healthcare.

The report has found, with investment, an additional 208 doctors, 692 nurses, 196 pharmacists and 63 dentists could potentially be trained annually.

These options could result in an increase of up to 5,000 in total third-level enrolments in these disciplines. This increase is subject to a forthcoming process which will now begin to cross-reference available options with the ongoing demand in the veterinary and health care areas and to agree costs and funding.

Speaking about the plans, Minister Harris said, “this is an important moment for the delivery of healthcare. Through a very inclusive and expansive process, the Government has identified a significant increase in capacity across these key disciplines. My Department will now work with the Departments of Health to bring these proposals forward. Each will be subjected to a process and investment will be subject to the normal procedures. However, this could lead to an unprecedented change in the number of graduates in these key skills areas in the coming years and will help the health sector begin to address workforce shortage issues.”

Minister Donnelly said, “I have set the ambitious target of doubling the number of student places across the full range of essential health professions to meet our health workforce and patient care needs. We cannot continue to rely on recruitment from around the world to meet the healthcare workforce needs of our growing and aging population. This planned student expansion is an important step in addressing the needs of our health service and achieving health workforce sustainability for Ireland.”

The Government agreed to advance the process with investment to be considered in the context of Budgetary processes and the National Development Plan review. Individual projects will be subject to the usual appraisals to ensure value for money.


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