Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Ministers are set to discuss issues around pay for student nurses at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, with nursing unions reiterating calls for fair remuneration.

In November, a review commissioned by the Department of Health and carried out by Prof Tom Collins recommended that the pandemic placement grant, a payment of €100 per week after tax, should be paid when student nurses are on hospital placements from January 2021 until the end of the pandemic.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly will be providing colleagues with an update on the report, including his intention to publish it.

The review also recommended that the pandemic placement grant should be included in the terms of reference of any second review of supports for student nurses and midwives, and should also examine pay rates for interns on rostered duties.

The review heard testimony from students in December, but representatives from the Irish Nursing and Midwives Organisation (INMO) say that the frontline situation has changed completely since then, as a new wave of the pandemic continues.

Last weekend, placements for first to third year students were suspended for two weeks, while final-year interns will continue to work for low pay (€10.70 per hour).

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “There is still time for the Minister to do the right thing. Offer the students contracts as healthcare assistants to boost staffing and move up interns’ pay to reflect their new workloads and risks.

“Our student members tell us they feel left up in the air. Last minute decisions are being made about their placements, with no clear plan in place for the future.

“They are thanked for their work so far, but the thanks ring hollow when their reasonable demands for fair remuneration go unanswered.

“Many students tell us that they want to make a direct contribution to the fight against COVID, and are seeking healthcare assistant contracts while their placements are suspended.

“Our interns rightly feel abandoned. They continue to work for miserly wages, facing increased workloads, huge COVID risks, and weakened support.“

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