Research will inform policymakers on the appropriate student intake for nurses in Irish higher education institutions to better align with the needs of the health system
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath TD, published ‘A System Dynamics Model of Nursing Workforce Supply’ as part of the 2022 Spending Review process to improve the evidence base for policy decisions.
The aim of this work is to provide an evidence base to help inform policymakers on the appropriate student intake for nurses in Irish higher education institutions.
The paper estimates that in 2021 approximately 46% of the Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) Nursing Workforce in Ireland were educated abroad. Ireland has committed to attaining self-sufficiency in health workforce requirements through the training of adequate local staff as part of the WHO Code of Practice on International Recruitment of Health Personnel. The Code centres on the topic of ethical international recruitment. Participating countries, including Ireland, have agreed to ending active recruitment of health personnel from developing countries, particularly those facing critical shortages. This paper demonstrates a need for large scale expansion in the number of nursing places in Ireland in order to meet this commitment.
Progress on this will better align student intake over the coming decades with the needs of the health system
Highlights include the following findings:
Baseline Scenario: Based on a current intake of 2,000 undergraduate nurses per year and historical patterns of retention, the proportion of domestically educated Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) nurses will decrease from 54% in 2021 to approximately 38% in 2041.
Increasing the production of nursing graduates: Ireland produces 31 nursing graduates per 100,000 people each year. Gradually increasing this figure by 87% over 14 years to the level of the Netherlands (58 per 100,000) reduces Ireland’s reliance on foreign educated nurses relative to the baseline. In this scenario, approximately 50% of nurses in the WTE workforce would be domestically educated in 2041. Significantly increasing the production of nursing graduates by 251% to the per capita level of Australia (109 per 100,000), amongst the highest in the world, increases the share of domestically educated nurses to approximately 70% of the WTE workforce after 20 years. This compares with 38% in the baseline. Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly T.D. welcomed the publication saying,
“Strategic workforce planning in healthcare is a key priority for me and this Government. I am delighted to support the publication of ‘A System Dynamics Model of Nursing Workforce Supply’. The solutions identified in this paper will address workforce challenges, help to meet expected increases in demand for nurses and reduce Ireland’s reliance on the recruitment of foreign educated nurses.”