Mr. John D. Taylor
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons are in training as student nurses; how many of them come from the Republic of Ireland; and if he will make a statement about job prospects in the nursing profession.
§ Mr. Hanley
At 19 April there were 2,624 student nurses in training in Northern Ireland of whom 264 came from the Irish Republic.
In recent years the nursing workforce in Northern Ireland has stabilised, in part due to to the nurse clinical grading system introduced in April 1988. This improved retention of staff has reduced the employment opportunities for nurses completing their training. Changes in patterns of service and proposals for rationalisation of services will impact on nurse employment in the future. However, until discussions are completed and decisions are taken by the health boards and trusts, it is not possible to assess accurately the scale of change. The management executive of the Department of Health and Social Services is monitoring the situation carefully and is currently discussing with the National Board for Nursing and Midwifery and health boards future requirements for student nurse training.