About 1,000 nurses and midwives are expected to graduate from Northern Ireland universities over the next six months.
This includes more than 700 who will take part in winter graduation ceremonies this week at Queen’s University and Ulster University (UU). Having completed their training, they will now be available for employment across the Health & Social Care (HSC) system.
The number of commissioned pre-registration nursing and midwifery university places in Northern Ireland almost doubled over the decade between 2012/13 and 2022/23.
The most recent destination statistics for new graduates from both Queen’s and UU showed the vast majority intend to remain and work within Northern Ireland.
Maria McIlgorm, Chief Nursing Officer, said:
“Recent published figures highlight the continued growth in the number of registered nurses and midwives in Northern Ireland.
“Data from the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC) to the end of September 2023 shows there are now a total of 28,338 nurses and midwives here – that’s 651 more than six months previously, and 3,949 more than five years ago.
“Working in the HSC system is an enormously fulfilling career choice, providing a wealth of opportunities, training and professional development.
“I wish all of those nursing graduates the very best as they start out on their careers.”
The 1,000 figure includes 644 nursing & midwifery graduates from Queen’s University, and 356 nursing and mental health nursing graduates from Ulster University.
While the majority are graduating this month, the balance will graduate in the summer of 2024.
In addition, a further 149 nursing students are due to graduate from the Open University later in 2024. All students under this programme are already HSC employees.
The 1,000 figure includes the first cohort of 300 graduates funded as part of the New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) agreement in 2020.
Under NDNA, the Department of Health committed to and has delivered an extra 900 nursing and midwifery undergraduate places over this three-year period.
The number of commissioned pre-registration nursing and midwifery university places in Northern Ireland increased from 680 in 2012/13 to 1,335 in 2022/23.
Due to severe budgetary constraints, the nursing and midwifery student places returned to their 2020 baseline of 1,025 in 2023/24. This remains about 50% higher than the 2012/13 figure and the Department of Health will look to expand nursing and midwifery places in future when funding, and the assessment of priorities, permits.
In addition to locally trained nurses and midwives, as of the end of October 2023, 1,733 internationally-trained nurses had taken up posts within HSC Trusts in Northern Ireland under an ongoing regional recruitment initiative, of which 1,609 still remain in post.
There were 520 new arrivals in 2022/23. As of the end of October 2023, there have been 116 international arrivals so far this financial year.