Student nurses will be paid for their work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Health Minister Simon Harris has announced.
The move comes after the health sector and opposition parties pleaded for the students to be paid as hundreds are to start hospital placements as the country braces itself for a peak in Covid-19 cases.
In a statement this evening, Minister Harris announced that both student nurses and midwives would be offered a Healthcare Assistant (HCA) contract and be paid for their work.
This will allow students to complete their placement in a HCA role and continue to complete the course.
Student nurses are to apply online through HSE.ie/oncall.
Minister Harris said: "This is an offer and not an obligation. But I know so many of our student nurses want to play their role as we navigate our way through these difficult times.
"Our healthcare professionals have shown immense leadership and I will do everything I can to support them."
HCAs are paid €28,000 a year.
There are currently 4,000 student nurses in Ireland.
One student nurse told the Irish Examiner this week that nursing students were already facing a backlash over their work, with some asked to leave rented accommodation over fears that they would spread Covid-19.
“Everyone knows health itself is a hazardous occupation, but it’s especially hazardous at the minute," the student nurse, who asked not to be named, said.
"To expect students to enter that area without pay, it’s unrealistic and unfair."
This evening, Minister Harris thanked student nurses for their "brilliant work" and encouraged them to help throughout the crisis.
"We need all hands on deck through this challenging period," Minister Harris said.
Simon Harris has announced that student nurses will be paid for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis.
The Health Minister has confirmed that all 4,000 student nurses and midwives will be offered a contract as a Healthcare Assistant and will be paid accordingly.
Mr Harris paid tribute the "brilliant work they are doing in this difficult time," adding, "we need all hands on deck".
This will allow students to complete their placement in a HCA role and continue to complete their course.
A Healthcare Assistant earns €28,000 a year.
Earlier in the week, Labour leadership candidate Alan Kelly said they deserved to be paid as they were "on the frontline".
“Student nurses like many healthcare professionals are putting themselves out on the frontline working to protect us from the spread of Covid-19, but unlike many of their colleagues in our hospitals they are not being paid," he said.
In a live televised address to the nation on St Patrick’s Day, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar paid tribute to those workers saying he was “proud” of the members of his family who work in the sector.
“Not all superheroes wear capes - some wear scrubs and gowns,” he said.
- Additional reporting Joel Slattery