The number of undergraduate nursing and midwifery places needs to increase or Ireland's health service will face even more severe staffing pressures in the future, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has warned.
It pointed out that of the 3,700 nurses and midwives who joined Ireland's nursing and midwifery register in 2019, 13% had trained somewhere else in the EU, while 49% had trained outside of the EU.
However, the overseas recruitment of nursing staff is expected to be severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which will result in extra pressure on nurses and midwives working here in the coming years.
In an attempt to tackle this issue, the INMO is calling for an urgent increase in the number of undergraduate nursing and midwifery places.
Currently in Ireland, there are around 1,800 places on nursing and midwifery courses available every year, however in 2019, over 5,300 students put this option down as their first choice on the CAO.
According to INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, frontline staff must be given the support and resources they need to do their job.
She pointed to the thousands of students who put nursing or midwifery down as their first preference last year and insisted that more places should be available to accommodate them.
"To provide safe care, we need to build up our staffing levels. Ireland must continue to recruit staff from around the world, but also to train more ourselves. We train far fewer nurses and midwives than we need, but we know that thousands more want to join the nursing family," Ms Ní Sheaghdha said.
Discussions on this topic are now closed.