Student nurses and midwives will be paid for their work in hospitals for the duration of the coronavirus crisis, Minister for Health Simon Harris has confirmed.
Harris today said that student nurses and midwives who are currently on supernumerary – or unpaid – placement will receive payment for their work, after criticism from students’ and trade unions.
In a statement, Harris said that student nurses and midwives will be offered a contract as healthcare assistants which will allow them to receive payment, according to RTÉ News.
“This is an offer and not an obligation”, he said. “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.”
This arrangement, Harris said, will allow students to continue on their course and complete their placement.
Students can apply online through HSE.ie/oncall.
Trinity nurses on supernumerary – or unpaid – placement have been pulled from hospitals as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, but final-year nurses on paid interns are still attending.
It’s unclear if intern nurses, who are paid €10.47 an hour, and entitled to 55 hours of sick leave before they have to start repaying hours missed, will have to make up time lost if they’re forced to self-isolate.
Yesterday, in an email statement to The University Times, Michael Pidgeon, a communications officer with the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), said: “In terms of pay and employment, interns are employees – same as any other – and have the rights and protections that go along with that. The employers’ sick leave arrangements apply.”
“For COVID-19, the INMO and other unions negotiated “special leave with pay”, which means that if someone is instructed to self-isolate, they do so without it having any impact on their wider entitlement to sick leave”, Pigeon added. “This covers interns and all employees.”
“As it stands, the normal procedure of outstanding clinical hours needing to be completed to meet the mandatory requirement of registration with the NMBI still applies. As is the norm, these outstanding clinical hours to meet the mandatory requirement of registration will be paid.”
“The INMO is seeking maximum flexibility and leniency with repaying hours given the extraordinary circumstances, but have not yet received a formal response on this”, he said.
The news comes after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday confirmed that the government was looking into the issue.
Earlier this week, Trinity’s first and third-year nursing students were pulled from placement due to the coronavirus outbreak, but final-year student nurses are continuing on their internships. Second-year students were not on placement at the time.