The Welsh Government has announced an £80m investment to increase training places for the next generation of healthcare professionals by 16% next year.
As a result, the number of nurses being trained in 2015-16 will increase by 22%, while the number of paramedic places available will increase by 161%, compared to the 2014-15 academic year.
“We must see sustainable change in staffing levels in the Welsh NHS in order to match resource with demand”
The money will also support the education and training of a range of other healthcare professionals, including physiotherapists and occupational therapists, the Welsh Government said.
Ministers said the number of funded training places was based on plans developed by health boards and had been discussed with healthcare unions.
The £80m for the 2015-16 academic year will support 2,498 new students to undertake an education programme and continue the education of 6,881 students in training. In total, £350m is spent every year, supporting 15,000-plus students and trainees in Wales.
Welsh health and social services minister Mark Drakeford said: “We are creating extra training and education places in 2015-16 to increase the next generation of health professionals to meet the needs of patients across Wales.
“Good health education and training is essential to maintain and improve the standards of care provided to patients across Wales,” he added.
The Royal College of Nursing welcomed the announcement, adding that it was recognition of the “vital contribution the nursing family” to the healthcare system and frontline care.
David Wallace, associate director (employment relations) RCN Wales, said: “The NHS and its staff are currently experiencing unprecedented pressures and demands. We must see sustainable change in staffing levels in the Welsh NHS in order to match resource with demand.
“Today’s news of financial investment will hopefully help secure a more stable and secure future for patients, and safer working environments for staff, and we hope to see this increase year-on-year,” he said.
Increase in the number of training places in 2015-16:
Nursing – 230 extra places, an increase of 22%
Paramedic training – 58 extra places, an increase of 161%
Occupational therapists – 23 extra places, an increase of 26%
Physiotherapy – 25 extra places, an increase of 26%
Diagnostic radiography – 19 extra places, an increase of 26%
Speech and language therapy – seven extra places, an increase of 19%
Clinical scientists – nine extra places, an increase of 52%
Dental hygienists and technicians – nine extra places, an increase of 41%