In a time of very limited recruitment opportunities in the public service, I am very pleased that up to 1,000 two-year contracts are being made available to graduate nurses and midwives in our health services under the Graduate Nurse/Midwifery Programme. In addition to giving employment opportunities, a major objective of the Nurse Graduate scheme is to put in place more cost-effective service delivery arrangements, having regard to the high rates of expenditure on agency staffing and overtime. The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform agreed to the initiative on the basis that it would be outside the Employment Control Framework and deliver significant savings.
Under the Haddington Road Agreement it was agreed that participants will be paid 85% of the first point of the new entrant scale in the first year and 90% in the second. Alongside these valuable employment opportunities, those who take up offers will also be able to avail of supported further professional development. The scheme will support the retention of graduate nurses and midwives within the Irish health system and enable them to gain valuable work experience and development opportunities post-graduation. Participants will have access to a variety of care settings while gaining clinical experience.
The educational component of the graduate nurse and midwife programme comprises a 2 year part-time 3 module Certificate Graduate Education Programme that will be Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland approved and academically accredited. This formally accredited programme will have currency for accreditation for prior learning by Higher Education Institutes when graduates wish to undertake further study and progress towards a Masters Level Award at a later stage in their careers.
Under the Programme, by the end of January 2014 the recruitment of over 600 graduate nurses was completed or in train, over 1,000 applications having been received.