Clare County Councillor and Member of the West Clare Municipal District, Cllr Gabriel Keating, believes the sharp rise in points for CAO Nursing applications over the past number of years is forcing many aspiring nurses abroad.
“This increase in points is being driven by the shortage of undergraduate places in our universities and institutes of technology. The number of placements in general nursing programmes reduced from 1870 places in 2009 to 1,500 places in 2015 due to the HSE decision that year to reduce the number of places as a cost saving measure given that as part of their education trainee nurses receive a payment when there are on placement in hospitals,” Cllr Keating said.
“With the shortage of places and the increased demand for nurses, points for nursing and related degrees were the hardest courses to gain access to again last year. For example, midwifery and nursing courses in UCC were both 445 points by general nursing at UCD, IT Tralee and Trinity were all 425 points. It is clear at this stage that the only way forward is to allow the 13 Nursing Schools to expand the number of places on offer to CAO applicants,” he added.
“For the past number of years up to 500 nursing students have accepted places in Northern Ireland and UK Nursing Schools. Those students were able to receive financial support for their study and with offers of employment and career advancement in the UK, it was an attractive option for Irish Students. However, from the 2017 academic year onwards, all such NHS funding will cease and all nursing students will to have to source student loans to fund their studies.
This move will put further pressure on Irish Nursing Schools as it will close off the option for many Irish PLC pre nursing graduates given the shortage of places here,” according to Cllr Keating.
“If we increase the number of places in our Nursing Schools we will address the demand and the resultant sharp rise in CAO points. In addition, now that our hospitals are recruiting again, it would also help to retain these graduating nurses here,” he concluded.