Northern Ireland

Rise in number of nurses and midwives in Northern Ireland to 'record high'

New figures show the number of nurses and midwives in Northern Ireland has grown to a 'record high'
New figures show the number of nurses and midwives in Northern Ireland has grown to a 'record high'

The number of nurses and midwives in Northern Ireland has grown to a "record high", according to new figures.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) said statistics show the number of nursing and midwifery professionals in the north grew by 651 (2.4%) to a record 28,338 between April and September.

It also said there has been an 85% increase in the number of new nurses and midwives joining the register for the first time.

The NMC described the figures as "encouraging".

Latest figures show that there are 808,488 nurses, midwives, and nursing associates eligible to practise on the UK register, with 28,338 in Northern Ireland.

A total of 776 nurses and midwives in the north joined the register for the first time in the last six months compared to 419 during the same period last year.

The majority of those who joined were educated in the UK, more than double compared to the same period last year and more than five times higher than five years ago.

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India is the single largest source of international recruitment, representing 37.9% of all international joiners in Northern Ireland since April.

Figures also reveal that the retention rate "remains steady" with the proportion of leavers on the register the same in the last six months as it was five years ago.

The statistics also show there has been a gradual shift in the ethnic profile of professionals on the register in Northern Ireland.

Nurses and midwives from black and minority ethnic backgrounds now account for 12.2% of professionals, compared to 11.4% six months ago and 8.1%in September 2018.

The age profile of professionals is also changing – 44.9% of people in September were aged 21-40, slightly higher than 44.3% six months ago and 39.5 % five years ago. 

Miles Wallace from the NMC said: “Nurses and midwives are at the heart of our health and social care system, providing safe, kind, and effective care to the citizens of Northern Ireland every day.

"It’s encouraging that the NMC register in Northern Ireland has reached a record high with nearly 800 skilled and knowledgeable professionals in Northern Ireland joining in the last six months.

“While UK educated joiners represent the majority of nurses and midwives based in Northern Ireland, we are continuing to see a rise of international professionals.

"All these professionals make a vital and welcome contribution to the health and wellbeing of people across Northern Ireland.

“With increased international recruitment in Northern Ireland, it’s important for employers to continue to adhere to the UK government’s ethical recruitment code of practice to avoid undermining health systems in countries with the most pressing health and care challenges.

"And we must ensure internationally educated professionals are fully supported to deliver the best care possible for people using services.”