A petition launched appealing for fair pay for student nurses and midwives has already nearly 20,000 signatures.
The petition by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which was launched just two days ago, has 19,305 signatures at the time of writing.
It calls on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to bring in pay for final year students at the same level as healthcare assistants, and increase and expand the clinical placement allowance for all other students.
An INMO spokesperson told BreakingNews.ie: “It just shows the public are way ahead of the political system when it comes to supporting nurses and midwives.
“We're hoping that this is something that can be dealt with relatively quickly. We're not talking about a huge number of people, but we're talking about people who are making a big contribution.”
Student nurses and midwives have been asked to step up their workload to aid in the effort to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, yet they are still doing so for inadequate pay, argues the INMO.
Every voice that's added to the petition is a voice we'll be bringing to the gates of the Dáil when we present the petition.
Back in March, public outcry on the matter led to the student nurse temporary HCA initiative being brought in, but this is yet to be reinstated.
Student nurses and midwives in years one to three of their studies undertake clinical practice placements. Most are unpaid, but some receive a weekly allowance of €50.79.
Those in final year take on an internship, which is paid, but at a lower rate than health care assistants and fully qualified nurses.
Near 17,000 people have signed the @INMO_IRL petition in a clear show of strong support for student nurses and midwives
We know our value & we know when we're being exploited
Help protect the future for these students and the future of the HSE
— Ciarán as Cabrach 🇵🇸 (@CiaranFromCabra) November 26, 2020
The spokesperson added: “There was a scheme in place in the early to mid stage of the pandemic that provided some payment for work as healthcare assistants, basically we need to take some principles of that and apply them now.
“What we're looking for is a fair rate of pay for people in their fourth year and fair pay for those in the first three years when they're on placement.
“The fact is they're doing hard work, they're taking risks and there's a chance they might contract the virus. Their educational experience has been compromised, and they're not getting paid for their work. Time to end the exploitation really.”
“Student nurses and midwives had a good case for fair pay before the crisis, now the case is inarguable because they're taking on the same Covid risk as anyone else in the healthcare service. They're doing a lot of work, facing a lot of stress, but they're simply not getting paid for it. Time for a policy change.
“Every voice that's added to the petition is a voice we'll be bringing to the gates of the Dáil when we present the petition. It's already something that's come up in the Dáil and we hope people will continue to raise it, as a matter of decency and fairness to people who are on the frontlines.”