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Health | Availability of health professionals

To ask the Minister for Health the action being taken to ensure the availability of an adequate number of health professionals within the health services including but not limited to consultants, GPs and nurses to meet the demand in all areas throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


Health and Social Care workforce planning and ensuring an appropriate pipeline of suitably qualified healthcare professionals in Ireland is a top priority for the Government.

Department of Health officials engage on an ongoing basis with colleagues in the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that we train enough graduates with the skills necessary to support the delivery of health and social care services and to develop a strategic approach to workforce planning for the health sector.

There are ongoing discussions between both Departments in relation to increasing domestic supply of health and Social Care graduates in the short term to medium term through the immediate provision of additional places, and the longer-term planning being undertaken around future skills needs in context of future demand for health and social care services. These additional places are being targeted in areas of acute skills need.

Further permanent additional places in healthcare disciplines were announced in July, including 135 places on nursing and midwifery programmes commencing from September 2022.  In July 2022, Minister Harris and I announced an agreement with the Irish Medical Schools to phase in an increase of 200 additional Irish/EU medicine places over the next 5 years.

A steady increase has been seen in the number of doctors entering GP training over recent years, rising from 120 in 2009 to 258 in 2022. Following the transfer of responsibility for GP training to the Irish College of General Practitioners 350 training places are intended to be available for new entrants per year by 2026.

These measures enhance the attractiveness of general practice in Ireland and will see an increase in the number of GPs working here, improving access to GP services for patients throughout the country. 

As of 31 October the total workforce stands at 136,092 WTE. This is an increase of 848 WTE from September figures and a year-to-date increase of 3,769 WTE. There are 16,275 more WTE working in our health service than there were at the beginning of 2020.  This includes 4,592 nurses and midwives; 2,654 health and social care professionals; and 1,758 doctors and dentists. 2020 and 2021 have seen the biggest staff increases since the HSE was established.

In addition, the HSE has been engaging in a programme of work to develop and transform the ability of the HSE to attract essential talent, to meet the needs of our health service now and in the future.  Over the past couple of years, the HSE have worked in partnership with service areas to enhance recruitment capability across our health service. 

A programme of actions is currently under way including:

  • All nursing / midwifery / Health and Social Care professionals being offered permanent contracts.
  • Career opportunities across specialist and advanced practice roles and clinical leadership roles which are important factors to attracting and retaining nurses and midwivesinto the workforce and these continue to grow in community settings under Sláintecare reform. 
  • Increased funding for Additional Advanced Nurse/Midwife Practitioner (ANMP) posts. Budget 2022 provided funding for the development of 149 new ANMP posts across the health service increasing the critical mass of ANMPs.
  • The number of Advanced Nurse/Midwife Practitioners will be increased service-wide to achieve a total of 3% of the nursing workforce at advanced level
  • Further expansion of international recruitment and enhanced nurse programme as well as ongoing rolling campaigns.
  • A focused multi stakeholder working group for Medical / Consultants established delivering improvements on average of 58% in times to hire (and improving) – 68 weeks down to 39 weeks with continuous review of process to reduce times to hire and improve candidate experience.  Targeted marketing for hard to fill roles. Launched medical consultant hub – A one stop shop microsite for Medical Consultant Recruitment (with the PAS) supported by an international marketing campaign. Link: 
  • Development of Clinical Infrastructure to facilitate additional students and accommodate overseas candidates gaining registration for Health and Social Care professions. 
  • Development of an Advanced Practice Framework for Health and Social Care Professionals

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