Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Hamilton announces 100 extra nurse training places in Northern Ireland

Health Minister Simon Hamilton, MLA, today announced a 15% increase in the annual number of pre-registration nurse training places commissioned in Northern Ireland and the establishment of a new task group on nursing.

The Minister stated: “I am delighted to be able to announce an increase of 100 pre-registration nurse training places to be available in Northern Ireland from autumn 2016. This increase will take my Department’s annual commission of training places to 745. Nurses are central to the delivery of safe, effective and compassionate care. Even though we have increased the number of front-line nurses and midwives in the HSC by 1,200 over the past four and a half years, I recognise that the demand for nurses across our health system continues to rise.

The Minister added: I am deeply impressed by the quality of care provided by our nurses, and of the pre-registration training provided by our partner universities. The close collaborative approach to training adopted by the HSC and the universities consistently produces nurses which, I believe, are among the best in the world. With this in mind I am also announcing the commissioning of a Task Group under the direction of the CNO to which I will appoint a lay chair. This Group will make clear recommendations about the future delivery of nursing and midwifery over the next 10 – 15 years. It will inform the development of new and exciting roles, building on the existing skills of our graduate workforce to lead the transformational changes required to deliver the world class health service to which we all aspire.”

In conclusion, the Minister noted: “This significant investment, funded from the Transformation Fund which I have established, demonstrates my commitment to providing the highest standards of care to our population. This increase in training places, which will take commissions over the 700 mark for the first time since 2009, will be warmly welcomed by the many individuals who I know wish to pursue a career in nursing.”

In a statement the Royal College of Nursing said they were pleased that the Minister recognises the contribution of Nurses and Nursing to the delivery of health and social care in Northern Ireland and that despite significant financial challenges his Department continues to financially support Nurse Education in Northern Ireland. His announcement that the number of nursing students is to be increased will be widely welcomed by the profession.

RCN Northern Ireland Director Janice Smyth said: “We welcome the Minister’s announcement that he is commissioning a "Task Group" for Nursing and Midwifery under the direction of the CNO. The nursing profession is facing unprecedented pressure and the Royal College of Nursing believes that an independently chaired review group is urgently required. This provides an opportunity to ensure an approach that promotes health and wellbeing, identifies and embraces innovative practice and work already undertaken in Northern Ireland and is informed by evidence of best practice here, across the UK and further afield. In response to this announcement the RCN have warmly welcomed the Minister’s ongoing commitments to our health and social care system.”

Notes for Editors

1. In 2015/16, DHSSPS commissioned 645 pre-registration nursing places across 3 partner universities, Queens’ University Belfast, the Ulster University and the Open University. The 100 places announced will be in addition to these.

2. Students successfully registering on a DHSSPS commissioned course at QUB and UU are eligible for full tuition fee support and an annual bursary.

3. The course provided at the OU is targeted at staff already employed within the HSC who wish to pursue a career in nursing.

4. 25 of the additional places will be provided at the Open University.

5. Media enquiries about this press release to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @HealthServiceNI

Monday, 28 March 2016

Ní Chuilín congratulates Mark Allen on Players Championship win

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has congratulated Antrim snooker player Mark Allen on winning the Players Championship Grand Final in Manchester.


Mark defeated Ricky Walden 10-6 to secure his first major ranking title since 2013 and his first ever in Britain.


Hailing Mark’s achievement the Minister said: “This was a fine victory by Mark Allen and the culmination of a lot of hard work. The field in the Players Championship was very strong; the top-ranking participants on this season’s European and Asian Orders of Merit, and Mark will therefore be very pleased to have come out the victor.


“The triumph contributes to what has been a good season for Mark and now all sights are on the World Championship next month where he can hopefully better his previous best of a semi-final appearance.


“My warm congratulations go to Mark on this victory and I wish him the very best as he prepares for the showpiece event in the Crucible.”



Notes to editors:


 Media enquiries to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Press Office Tel 028 9051 5047 or email communications@dcalni.gov.uk. Out of Office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07966715440 and your call will be returned.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

New TRPSI Framework to identify innovative ways of tackling rural poverty and isolation – O’Neill

A new framework to tackle the poverty and isolation challenges facing rural communities has been launched by Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill.

It will focus on encouraging partnership working and the development of new and innovative ways to tackle rural poverty and social isolation.

Minister O’Neill said: “I am delighted to present this new Tackling Rural Poverty and Social Isolation (TRPSI) Framework with its focus on ‘Supporting Rural Communities’.

“I am very proud of the achievements delivered under the previous £20 million TRPSI programme which has made a real and positive difference to the lives of rural dwellers. It has improved access to transport and broadband services, promoted positive mental health, helped to address fuel poverty, improved access to healthcare services and supported community development work.

“My goal now is to ensure that the new Framework maintains the structures and mechanisms we’ve already established so that DARD can continue to work in partnership with other public bodies and the rural community sector to improve the quality of life for our vulnerable rural dwellers. To that end, I have also brought forward an action plan for the next financial year which includes continued support for a range of activities and introduces some new initiatives,” the Minister explained.

The new TRPSI Framework will continue to focus on the three priority areas of access poverty, financial poverty and social isolation and retain the ability to develop measures to target vulnerable groups based on identified need.

The Minister continued: “As a rural dweller I am acutely aware of the difficulties facing our farm families. I know the challenges faced by our most vulnerable, the elderly who can feel isolated and alone, young people who feel they have limited opportunities because of where they live, or people with disabilities who face challenges which are exacerbated by where they live.

“I appreciate the difficult financial climate that we are all living and working in, however, in rolling out this new Framework, there is an opportunity to embrace new approaches to tackling poverty and social isolation and to be creative in identifying innovative solutions. The Executive recognises that no one single department has responsibility for rural issues. It is therefore vital that we work together both within and outside of government in seeking to deliver better outcomes for rural dwellers,” Minister O’Neill concluded.

Notes to editors:

All media queries should be directed to the DARD Press Office on 028 9052 4619 or email DARD Press Office: pressoffice.group@dardni.gov.uk. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Hamilton hails increases in frontline health service staff

Health Minister Simon Hamilton MLA has welcomed a growth in staffing numbers across the Health and Social Care (HSC) Sector in the past five years.

Between March 2011 and December 2015 there has been an increase across a range of frontline posts including:

    • 1,191 more Nurses and Midwives;
    • 523 more Allied Health Professionals;
    • 275 more Consultants, and
    • 73 more Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians.

The Minister said: “Since 2011, spending on Health in Northern Ireland has increased by over half a billion pounds. Crucially, that investment has been targeted at the frontline and in particular increasing the numbers of frontline staff. The total size of the HSC workforce has increased by 3,270 since 2011 with frontline staff accounting for the vast bulk of this rise.

“People across Northern Ireland want to see additional resources for Health going to the frontline and not on bureaucracy. I am pleased that between 2011 and now, the number of nurses and midwives working in our Health service has increased by 9%, the number of consultants has gone up by 21% and the number of allied health professionals has grown by 18%. This has required a significant investment over the last 5 years but is well worth it to ensure our Health Service has the staff it needs.

“I know that some areas of our Health and Social care system faces challenges with recruitment but I know that every effort is being made to resolve these. For example, I recently increased the number of GP training places by 20 and added 15 training places for doctors who have recently graduated through the Foundation Programme at the Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency.

“I would like to place on record my thanks to all of the staff across HSC for their hard work and dedication and we are all very grateful and proud of their continued commitment to providing first class services and acre for everyone across Northern Ireland.”


Thursday, 10 March 2016

O’Dowd officially opens new post primary Irish Medium school in Dungiven

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has officially opened Gaelcholáiste Dhoire, Dungiven, the North’s second post primary Irish Medium school.

Speaking at the event, the Minister said: “I am delighted to be here to officially open Gaelcholáiste Dhoire. The Irish language is an integral part of our rich and shared heritage and I take great pride in being part of a sector that continues to grow and thrive educationally, socially and economically.”

Continuing the Minister said: “I have no doubt about the benefits that Irish medium education offers our children and I am committed to protecting, enhancing and promoting our language and cultural heritage for future generations.

“I always enjoy visiting schools and meeting with the staff, parents and pupils and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all those who have worked hard over the last number of years to establish this college. Strong community connections play an integral part in creating any school environment and it is through your determination and dedication that more children of the Derry area can explore and learn through the medium of Irish language.”

In conclusion the Minister commended Principal Diarmaid Ua Bruadair, the governors led by Niall O’Kane and everyone connected with the school for their hard-work and determination in delivering a school which will benefit everyone in the Derry area.

Principal Diarmaid Ua Bruadair said: "The courageous decision that Minister O'Dowd took to approve the development proposal for Gaelcholáiste Dhoire has meant that children in Irish Medium schools in Derry and Tyrone can now progress to a post-primary provision tailored to their needs. Our young people have flourished in Gaelcholáiste Dhoire and with enrolment figures more than doubling for September 2016 it is clear that the minister's confidence has been well placed and that there is a huge demand for IM education in the area.

“Ó dhearcáin bheaga a fhásann an Dáir! From small acorns grows the mighty Oak! The Irish Language, Gaelic games and culture is in the DNA of County Derry so it is indeed a proud day when the Oak County celebrates the opening of its very own Gaelcholáiste."

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Another £30m for tackling waiting lists – Hamilton

Health Minister Simon Hamilton today announced a further £30m of additional funding to go directly towards tackling waiting lists.

This follows on from the investment of £40m at the end of 2015 and an extra £2m recently announced to assist autism waits. Mr Hamilton has also revealed that provisional waiting list times for February 2016 show that the number of people waiting for inpatient and outpatient appointments is falling.

The Minister said: “It is unacceptable that people are waiting too long, and dealing with these waiting lists is one of my key priorities.

“That is why for the early part of 2016/17 I am allocating a further £30m to continue tackling waiting lists. This additional funding will support up to 25,000 additional assessments and some 12,000 additional treatments across a wide range of specialities including orthopaedics, gastroenterology, neurology and ENT.

“Importantly it will see a £10m investment in diagnostic services, building capacity to support up to 50,000 additional tests to help meet increasing demands as well as supporting seven day services.

“Our Trusts already provide 600,000 inpatient and day case admissions, and 1.5 million consultant-led outpatient attendances each year. But it is clear that it will take time and significant non recurrent and recurrent investment to bring waiting lists back to an acceptable level whilst simultaneously increasing capacity to meet increasing demand. My commitment today to an additional £30m is an important step to ensuring continued progress.

“This further £30m follows the Executive’s earlier allocation of £40m. The combined £70m will ensure in the region of 150,000 extra assessments, tests and procedures. Also many children awaiting assessment for autism will benefit from the £2m I recently allocated for this specific area.

“Provisional figures for February 2016 show that those waiting more than 18 weeks for an outpatient appointment have fallen by 6% and those waiting longer than 26 weeks for an inpatient day case has fallen by 13%. It is clear that the investments we are directing towards waiting lists are making a difference. Slowly but surely we are getting to grips with waiting lists.”

Notes to editors:

Media queries to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0074, or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5540 and your call will be returned.