SINN FÉIN has described plans for the Irish Government to fund nursing places in Northern Ireland as ‘a welcome boost’.
The one-year plan will cost €10m and provide 250 nursing and midwifery places at Queen’s and Ulster University.
The move comes after Northern Ireland’s Department of Health was last month forced to cut 300 nursing places due to budgetary concerns.
On Saturday, Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon welcomed the cross-border co-operation at a time when the North is facing ‘chronic staff shortages’.
“Reports that the Irish Government is set to invest €10m to fund 250 student nursing places in the north is a hugely positive development,” said the MLA for Mid Ulster.
“Savage Tory cuts have resulted in hundreds of student nursing places being axed at a time when our health service is facing chronic staff shortages.
“This vital cross-border funding would ensure that we can train hundreds of nurses and midwives and provide a welcome boost to our local universities who would benefit from extra student places.
“I will be writing to the Department of Health in the south asking for confirmation on these reports.”
According to ITV, the funding would create 200 undergraduate places for students from Ireland and 50 places for Northern Ireland students.
In its report, a spokesperson for the North’s Department of Health described the plan as ‘an important practical step in fostering future collaboration across the island of Ireland in the important area of healthcare training which will be to the mutual benefit of our healthcare systems’.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from Ireland’s Department of Health said it was ‘a sign of what can be achieved through all island cooperation’.
Under the proposal, all students will do their practical training in the North, while the 200 students from Ireland are eligible to continue working in Northern Ireland after graduating.