Student nurses working in hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic must be paid for their work, the Labour Party Health spokesman has urged.
As previously reported by the Irish Examiner, the head of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has called for student nurses and midwives on unpaid placements during the Covid-19 pandemic to be treated as paid employees.
“We have a huge bank of motivated, skilled students who can help during this crisis,” said Phil Ní Sheaghdha, the general secretary of the INMO.
"It’s common sense to use them to help support the health service. In any work they do, they must be paid and protected as employees, and not asked to work at any level beyond their current training.”
This Tuesday morning, Alan Kelly, Labour leader hopeful and the party’s spokesman on health, has also urged for fair pay for student nurses working in hospitals during the crisis.
Student nurses, like many healthcare professionals, are putting themselves out on the frontline to protect the public from the spread of Covid-19, Mr Kelly said.
However, unlike many of their colleagues in our hospitals, they are not being paid, he added.
“Any fair-minded person would say that this is completely unacceptable for the times that we are in."
“Student nurses have already paid €3,000 in fees for the academic year which has been cut short, many have had to give up part-time jobs in other health-care settings to scrub up and join the fight against COVID-19.”
“It isn’t right that they are not being remunerated in any way for their time or effort.
“Student nurses who are working in our hospitals have living expenses too, they cannot just be reliant on their parents, or take out costly student loans to sustain them. They deserve fair treatment and fair pay at this time.”
In a previous statement, the Department of Health said options for first-year to third-year students are currently being examined: “If their student status cannot be maintained, there will be the option for them to work as healthcare assistants or other relevant roles in the health service. They would be paid for such.”
Hospitals dealing with exceptional difficulties related to Covid-19 may decide to advise students not to attend clinical placements if this is considered necessary, a spokeswoman for the HSE confirmed.