MLAs unite against nurse training cuts

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Politicians from across the spectrum have expressed disappointment after the Department of Health confirmed it was cutting £1m from the Ulster University’s School of Nursing budget in order to prioritise front line care.

The move has been described as ‘ludicrous’, ‘unacceptable’, and as running counter to Dr. Rafael Bengoa’s, ‘Systems, not structures: Changing Health and Social Care,’ report, which was published last year.

SDLP MLA and party health spokesman Mark H. Durkan said the cut to nurse training represented a “ludicrous overreach by the Department of Health that must be challenged”.

“I cannot believe that the Department of Health has taken a unilateral decision to cut the nurse training fund by almost 60 per cent with no consultation.

“This is an outrageous overreach in the absence of a functioning Executive and a decision that flies in the face of the patient-centric model that our health service is adopting through the Bengoa process,” he blasted.

Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney said: “Everyone recognises the clear need to increase the capacity of HSC staff to meet ever-growing demands placed on the health service. Cutting resources for specialist training for nurses goes against this.”

DUP MLA Gary Middelton said: “It is unacceptable that the department of health has taken a decision which will have severe implications for nurse training.

“At a time when our health service is under pressure and in need of reform, it is even more bewildering that a decision has been taken to reduce funding for nurse training at Ulster University by almost 60 per cent.

In a statement the Department of Health confirmed: “The current financial climate has necessitated taking very difficult decisions to balance the very many demands and considerations of the wider health and social care system within the constraints of the financial resource available.”