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.
Payment for student nurses and midwives is a litmus test of this government’s commitment to fairness for frontline workers.— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) December 3, 2020
It tells us so much about whose side they are on.#paystudentnursesandmidwives #educationnotexploitation @pearsedoherty pic.twitter.com/zwmi1Z2vKQ
"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:
Mr Doherty said frontline workers need to rewarded with "more than platitudes".
Remember their names.— Mick Caul 😷 (@caulmick) December 3, 2020
Government were offered a second opportunity to support @pb4p bill to #PayStudentNursesandMidwives but @fiannafailparty @FineGael and @greenparty_ie government voted in favour of their own amendment, NOT TO PAY our front line healthcare workers. #Dail pic.twitter.com/7TMTH036ZS
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.
"But there are exceptions made, there are exceptions made for gardaí in training, exceptions made for apprentices," Mr Varadkar told the Dáil.
Worth everyone posting these two pics. Promising student nurses pay during height of first covid wave, voting not to pay them when peak of crisis finishes few months later. Sure a round of applause will do them. How can anyone trust FF,FG, Greens?#paystudentnursesandmidwives pic.twitter.com/k7JoCuiQF1— Ruth Coppinger (@RuthCoppingerSP) December 3, 2020
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.