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Nursing and midwifery staffing pressures lie ahead if undergraduate places are not increased, INMO says

Today is International Nurses Day.

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THE IRISH NURSES and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has warned that there will be more severe staffing pressures in the future if the number of undergraduate nursing and midwifery places is not increased. 

Today is International Nurses Day which is held on the birthday of Florence Nightingale each year. 

Out of 3,700 nurses and midwives who joined the nursing and midwifery register in Ireland last year, almost half were trained outside of the EU and 13% had trained in other EU countries. 

The INMO, Ireland’s largest union for nurses and midwives, is saying the global pandemic will likely result in a drop in overseas recruitment, which will lead to increased pressures in nursing and midwifery in the years to come. 

The union is calling for an increase in the number of undergraduate nursing and midwifery places in Irish third-level institutions to help deal with this. 

There are approximately 1,800 spaces on these courses each year and in 2019, 5,324 students put nursing or midwifery as their first-preference choice in the CAO, the INMO said.  

Last year, nurses and midwives took to the picket lines in a dispute over pay and conditions. 

They argued that ongoing issues had led to a recruitment and retention crisis in the sector.  

The general secretary of the INMO, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said today takes an “even stronger meaning” in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We must ensure that frontline staff are given the support and resources they need to do their job. 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.”

To mark International Nurses Day, president Michael D Higgins issued a statement to pay tribute to nurses and midwives around the world. 

“Today, we are invited to celebrate the part that nurses have played, and will continue to play, in all our lives,” Higgins said.

“Theirs is a fundamental role, and currently it is a critical role, as countries around the world are dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic crisis and its tragic consequences.

“We have all gained hard-won wisdom with regard to the value of frontline workers, such as nurses, and those providing essential services across the economy.

It would be so regrettable, egregious even, if, through some form of collective amnesia, we as a society were ever to disregard or forget your heroic efforts, and revert to where we were before the pandemic – a society that sometimes failed to value you fully.

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Founder of modern nursing  

Historians have been praising Florence Nightingale on this day and said her legacy has “never been more relevant” amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nightingale’s data-based work helped shape the course of nursing as we know it today. 

Staff at the Florence Nightingale Museum in Westminster said her key nursing values – which focused on maintaining good hygiene, regularly washing hands and carrying out evidence-based practices – have been widely echoed over the past months.

She developed these habits during the Crimean War, where along with a small troupe of nurses, she tended soldiers’ wounds and worked to improve hospital conditions.

She founded the nursing school at St Thomas’ Hospital, developing palliative care and midwifery, and shaping the redesign of hospitals across the UK and the health system itself.

With reporting by Press Association 

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