Full review of allowances for student nurses under way, says Tánaiste 

The Government has been widely criticised for not supporting a motion to pay trainee nurses the same rate as healthcare assistants
Full review of allowances for student nurses under way, says Tánaiste 

The Government has been widely criticised for not supporting a motion to pay trainee nurses the same rate as healthcare assistants.

A full review of allowances for those studying nursing is under way the Tánaiste has told the Dáil amid calls to pay student nurses working in hospitals.

The Government has been widely criticised in the Dáil this week for not supporting a motion to pay trainee nurses the same rate as healthcare assistants.

However, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has since confirmed that up to 4,500 student nurses who were forced to give up part-time work as a result of the pandemic will be eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and this will be backdated to when they left their jobs.

However, a spokesperson for the minister said waiving the €100 registration fee that students nurses must pay on top of student fees is a matter for the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty said hospital patients don't differentiate between trainee nurses and qualified nurses and neither should the Government.

"They see them as the person that's providing care for them, they see them as nurses, they see them as the person at the end of their bed or on the side of their bed who is caring for them."

Calling on the Government to pay first-, second- and third-year student nurses, and provide a proper salary for qualified nurses, Mr Doherty said: 

The payment of nurses is a litmus test for your Government. It tells us so much about what this Government stands for and whose side it's on."

Mr Doherty said frontline workers need to rewarded with "more than platitudes".

Leo Varadkar said it was "not fair to say" that nurses and other healthcare workers were taken for granted.

"We've seen a very significant increase in staffing levels across our health service to respond to the pandemic. There have also been two pay rises this year, albeit modest ones, but two pay rises this year, both in March and in October. In most cases, people will have got a third pay rise, if they're working in the public health service in 2020 in the form of an increment.

There are a lot of students in Ireland. The vast majority of students in Ireland don't get paid, teaching students, for example, don't get paid.

"But there are exceptions made, there are exceptions made for gardaí in training, exceptions made for apprentices," Mr Varadkar told the Dáil.

Solidarity-PBP TD Richard Boyd-Barrett hit out at the three Government parties for not supporting a motion put forward by his grouping which would also have waived the fees of between €3,000 and €7,500 that student nurses pay.

"I have been inundated since last night by the student nurses and midwives who worked with us to put that motion together, and what they are saying is they are not giving up the fight," he said.

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