Tuesday, 10 February 2004

Ceisteanna (265)

Mary Wallace

Ceist:

341 Ms M. Wallace asked the Minister for Health and Children the position with regard to the proposed four and a half year integrated sick children's-general nursing degree programme; and if his attention has been drawn to fact that a sick children's nurse tutor was appointed to UCD, sponsored by his Department, to develop a curriculum for this programme, that there was huge disappointment that the programme did not commence in 2003 and that there is concern with regard to the timeframe for college applications, for example February 2004 for the autumn 2004 academic year. [3673/04]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Minister for Health and Children)

The commission on nursing, which reported in 1998, recommended that pre-registration nursing education move from a three year diploma programme to a four year degree programme in each of the disciplines of general, psychiatric and mental handicap nursing. The Government expressed its commitment to implementing the programme by providing capital investment in excess of €240 million to ensure the provision of purpose-built facilities for nursing students with state-of-the-art clinical skills and human science laboratories. In addition, when the programme has a full cohort of students in 2006, the total annual revenue cost will be in excess of €90 million.

The new nursing degree commenced in 13 higher education institutes in autumn 2002, with an annual approved intake of 1,640 students across the three disciplines concerned. This level of intake is 70% higher than it was in 1998. I am aware that valuable preparatory work has been done on curriculum development for an integrated sick children's-general nursing degree programme. Officials from my Department are examining the feasibility of options for progressing the matter in consultation with stakeholders. I am keeping the situation under review.