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Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science | Health graduate supply

To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the extent to which his Department is focused on the health sector in terms of ensuring a steady supply of graduates with a view to ensuring the filling of the maximum number of posts in the health services in Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


My Department is strongly committed to supporting the health of the population through the provision of graduates with the key competencies and skills to be effective in the health workforce and support a range of clinical teams in our health services.

In July, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, and I jointly announced an additional 60 places in medicine programmes for this academic year. The agreement reached with the medical schools will create additional places in medical programmes over five years, with the number of additional places climbing to 120 in September 2023, and up to 200 by 2026.

Further permanent additional places were also announced in July, including 135 places on nursing programmes commencing from September 2022. Significant engagement is ongoing between my Department and the Department of Health in relation to substantial further expansion in nursing places. We continue to work closely with the Chief Nursing Officer, the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland and the Higher Education institutions on the sustainable introduction of places on nursing programmes.

My officials are also actively engaging with the Department of Health, the HSE and other relevant Health and Social Care Profession stakeholders to ensure that we can continue to deliver graduates with the skills necessary to support our healthcare system and support the strategic workforce planning by the health sector. The availability of appropriate placements and placement supports is a key enabler of this expansion, and engagement across my Department, the Department of Health, HSE and Higher Education Sector is ongoing. The Higher Education Authority are currently developing a request for Expressions of Interest to issue to the sector targeted at specific areas including healthcare.

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