Student nurse placements suspended days before motion on their pay to be tabled in Dáil

The department says this is an evolving situation and is under constant review

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Student nurse placements suspended days before motion on their pay to be tabled in Dáil

Student nurse placements suspended

Nursing and midwifery student nurse placements have been suspended. 

According to a statement issued by the Department of Health on Saturday, the decision was taken to facilitate redeployment of additional qualified nurses and midwives to support the Covid-19 response.

However, the announcement comes ahead of a motion by Sinn Féin calling for fair pay for student nurses. The motion is due to come before the Dáil on Wednesday.  

This follows the defeat of a similar motion brought by Solidarity-People Before Profit in December which was opposed by the government and defeated by 77 votes to 72.

The Department of Health says the suspension of student placements is part of a plan to maximise the workforce to deal with the current surge of Covid-19.

It says the HSE requested that experienced and qualified staff who currently support undergraduate training for students be released for redeployment as part of the Covid-19 response. Clinical placements will therefore be suspended for at least two weeks from January 18 as there will be no educational and support infrastructure for them.

The department says this is an evolving situation and is under constant review in the context of the Covid-19 demand trajectory.

Students on First and Third Year placements are not counted in staff numbers but those in Fourth Year are included for rostering purposes as half of a full-time nurse or midwife. Placements for interns who are in Fourth Year will continue with the appropriate education and support infrastructure in place. 

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly TD said: “I would like to thank all student nurses and midwives for their ongoing commitment to the future of our health services. This is an uncertain time for them and I know many will be disappointed by this news. I would like to reassure them that all options will be considered in re-starting these placements as soon as it is possible.”

In making this decision, the Chief Nursing Officer is engaging with the HSE, the Higher Education Institutes and the regulator to ensure that the impact of this decision is minimised for all nursing and midwifery students.

Chief Nursing Officer in the Department of Health, Rachel Kenna said: “I recognise the enormous commitment students have made in participating in the clinical learning environments at a very challenging time. The education of student nurses and midwives is a priority for all of us, but this must be done safely, with the appropriate supports and supervision structures in place.”

The decision is supported by the HSE’s Office of the Nursing & Midwifery Services Director (ONMSD), Senior Nurses and Midwives from clinical services, the Chief Nursing Office (CNO) in the Department of Health and the Nursing & Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI).