Dáil Éireann - Volume 478 - 01 May, 1997

Written Answers. - Mental Handicap Services.

81. Miss M. Wallace asked the Minister for Health the number of approved training schools there are for the training of mental handicap nurses; the number of training places available in these schools; the number of nurses who qualified from these schools in each of the past three years; the number of approved nursing positions currently in the mental handicap services; the plans, if any, he has to ensure that the level of service being provided by the many centres for the mentally handicapped and people with learning dis- [1277] abilities will not be diminished or necessary expansion put in jeopardy due to the non-availability of sufficient numbers of trained staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11864/97]

[1278] Minister for Health (Mr. Noonan, Limerick East): The detailed statistical information requested by the Deputy is as follows.

There are seven approved training schools for the training of mental handicap nurses, details of the number of training places available and the number of nurses who have qualified in each of the last three years are set out in the table hereunder.


Number of training places available in 1996

Number qualified in 1994

Number qualified in 1995

Number qualified in 1996

St. Mary's, Drumcar





Sisters of La Sagesse, Cregg House, Sligo





Moore Abbey, Monasterevin





St. Vincent's, Lisnagry





Stewarts Hospital





COPE, Cork





St. Joseph's, Clonsilla





* includes 10 postgraduates

‡ includes 9 postgraduates

The number of approved nursing posts in the mental handicap service is not currently available in my Department. However, on 31 December 1995, the latest date for which information is available, there were 2,155 whole time equivalent mental handicap nurses employed in the mental handicap service provided by the health boards and mental handicap agencies directly funded by my Department.

The Deputy will be aware that the traditional model of pre-registration nursing education and training is in the process of being replaced by a new diploma-based programme. The new programme is operated by the schools of nursing in association with third level institutes. Student nurses who successfully complete the registration diploma programme will be awarded a diploma in nursing from the associated third level institute and will be eligible to register as a nurse with An Board Altranais. The objective of the transition to the new model is to enhance nursing education and training to ensure the quality of nursing care in hospitals through the replacement of student nurses by qualified staff. This is in line with key recommendations contained in the report The Future of Nurse Education and Training in Ireland published by An Board Altranais.

The new nursing registration/diploma programme will be introduced for the first time in the mental handicap nursing sector in autumn 1997 through the COPE Foundation, Cork and St. Vincent's, Lisnagry, Limerick, which will each offer 20 places on the programme. This represents an increase of nine training places.

I am firmly committed to the registration/diploma programme and to providing the necessary resources for its full implementation in all nursing disciplines at the earliest possible date.

Manpower planning for both the needs of existing and developing services is an issue which is kept under constant review, through consultation with relevant professional bodies, health boards and other service providers.