Growing calls for student nurses to be paid for their work fighting coronavirus

Growing calls for student nurses to be paid for their work fighting coronavirus

THERE ARE growing concerns that student nurses and midwives are not being paid for their work fighting on the frontlines amid the rising threat of coronavirus in Ireland.

As it stands, student nurses on placement in hospitals during their studies are not paid for their work, instead they are placed on unpaid work experience as part of their college course.

Now, despite colleges being closed across the country, Ireland's student nurses are working their hardest on the frontlines to tackle the strain the HSE is under due to the unprecedented global pandemic-- and while they are being applauded and thanked for their work, they are still treated as students on work experience.

A Tweet from student nurse Leah Byrne, a University College Dublin student who is currently working with the HSE, has gone viral in recent days for detailing the stark reality faced by some student medics.

"Student nurse, 12 hour days, no pay, lost my accomadation (sic), lost my job in a nursing home at weekends due to cross-contamination of healthcare setting issues.

"No income and now commuting 1.5 hours each way to help on the front line for not one cent."

The illuminating tweet has garnered support from hundreds of people, with one man stating "If you are good enough to be on the front line, then you are good enough to be paid".

Others have offered rent-free rooms, the use of a car or to pay Leah's leap card for travel.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) have come out in favour of students being paid for their work, when they said in a statement:

“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”.

“We have repeatedly warned the HSE of the difficulties now experienced by students in areas of accommodation for placements and also lack of consistent supervision in the clinical placement”.

The calls for fair pay have reached government ears, with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar saying earlier today, at the launch of a public information booklet on Covid-19 due to be sent to every household in Ireland, that the Government is investigating the issue of student nurses working on the front lines and not getting paid.

Mr Varadkar confirmed that the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, would be putting forth proposals relating to the issue shortly.