Student nurses and midwives are to have their placements cancelled for two weeks, according to a decision by the Department of Health.
Nursing and midwifery students in the first three years of their degree go on “supernumerary placement”, which is unpaid. This has been cancelled for two weeks, with specific exemptions for some children’s nursing students in fourth year.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly on Saturday authorised the ending of the current placement arrangements for student nurses across the country in a bid to free up senior and experienced nurses, who currently oversee the training, and to allow them to return to frontline duties.
The affected students will not have to repay this placement time later in order to qualify. The Department has stated that these students will not be offered temporary healthcare assistant contracts over this period, as they were earlier in the pandemic.
Final year students in their internship will continue to work over the coming two weeks, but the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has sought clarity and requested that their pay is increased to the healthcare assistant grade, as it was in March.
The union says that this would better reflect the workload and risk those final-year interns face.
INMO student representatives will meet to discuss the plans and set out their reaction.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “This is last-minute decision and further clarity is needed. Students have been put in incredibly risky situations with no pay and weakened protections.
“Those interns who are being asked to continue working need to be valued properly. Earlier in the pandemic, their pay was increased to take account of the risks and workload they faced. The Minister should do the right thing and reinstate that policy.”