Student nurses will be paid for frontline work during Covid-19 pandemic

Joy Nderitu

Student nurses around the country will now be paid for shifts carried out during the coronavirus outbreak.

Minister for Health Simon Harris announced the news that student nurses will be offered a contract as a Healthcare Assistant and will be paid for their work. He stated that this is an offer but “not an obligation”.

“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,” he continued.

According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, student nurses and midwives should be protected and paid as employees during the pandemic. This comes as many students are due to begin their unpaid placements this month.

Every year, students undergo unpaid work placement at a hospital to build up enough hours to become a fully qualified nurse. At present only fourth year student nurses get paid at a rate of just under €10.50 an hour. However, given the current situation, the INMO has said that they should be paid.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation had stated that if a clinical placement coordinator was not put in place then the placement cannot continue. The organisation tweeted: ‘the HSE should offer students proper, paid employment, with the protections that go along with being a proper employee. This should be in line with their existing training and skills’.

Student nurse Mary Lynch believes this is a step in the right direction. “I’m over the moon with the news, I was so worried about having to work during the pandemic never mind unpaid, so this will definitely help in regards to accommodation and food,” she admitted.

The INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha praised the decision. “These are dedicated, talented, hard-working people who are keen to help in the global fight against COVID-19. Taking them on as paid staff not only values their work, but offers them clear protections as employees,” he said.

Minister Harris thanked the student nurses for their work and said that the health service need “all hands on deck during this challenging period.”

Joy Nderitu

Image Credit: DCU