14 December 2020
By Elaine Murphy
‘Student nurses’ are ‘nursing students’ who are in a clinical setting – in Ireland, they are not paid. If they were paid where would the money come from? Would already graduated nurses seek back pay? The Government certainly has many issues to consider before making any change, but in the short term the question is being hotly debated by the opposition.
Cork North Central Solidarity TD Mick Barry said this morning that there should be no contradiction between student nurses and midwives studying a degree course and at the same time getting paid for work they perform while in placement in our hospitals.
His comments came in the wake of revelations at the weekend that student nurses were drafted in to cope with the crisis in St Mary’s Nursing Home in North Dublin last April/May where 24 residents died in a Covid outbreak.
Deputy Barry said that student nurses in Scotland now receive a ‘bursary’ of £10,000 a year whilst on their degree course and there was no reason why a similar arrangement couldn’t be out in place in Ireland.
He said that the Government argument that the choice was between a degree course where students are not paid or an apprenticeship system where they are was a false choice.
He said: “The news that student nurses were drafted in to do crisis work in a nursing home where Covid was on the rampage and more than twenty people died further weakens the Government argument that student nurses should not be paid. Public opinion is strongly behind the student nurses and midwives on this one and the Government are going to have to read the room and change their hardline position on this issue.”
The issue is expected to once again be a major issue on the floor of the Dáil this week before the Dáil rises for its Christmas recess on Thursday.