Pay for Student Nurses and Midwives: Motion (Resumed) [Private Members]

The following motion was moved by Deputy Mick Barry:
“That Dáil Éireann:
notes that:
— 4,000 student nurses and midwives have been working on the frontline in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic;
— these students are carrying out essential work and are compensating for the long-term understaffing of our health service as well as covering for Covid-19-related absences of qualified staff;
— 11,369 health care workers have been infected with Covid-19, 16.6 per cent of all cases in Ireland, 59 of whom were admitted to Intensive Care Units;
— the chronic understaffing of our health service was a problem before the Covid-19 pandemic, and that the necessary measures to address this understaffing have not been addressed by successive Governments;
— these students were briefly paid the Health Care Assistant (HCA) rate in Spring in recognition of the essential nature of the work, but this payment has since ceased, and they now receive no payment for their work;
— the financial cost to the students of carrying out this essential work is sizeable, with many students paying well over and above their travel and accommodation allowances to simply be able to attend the workplace;
— the personal and mental health cost to student nurses and midwives working in such high stress and high-pressure jobs are enormous, as well as the obvious risks to their health and the health of their family and/or those they live with;
— even before the Covid-19 crisis, the role these students were playing in their placements was more essential work than training;
— these students are actually paying for the ‘privilege’ of doing unpaid work in their placements, with fees of between €3,000 and €7,500;
— the vast majority of these students are women and their exploitation is also a reflection of gender inequality;
— these students utterly refute the recent claim by the Minister for Health that his refusal to pay them for their placement work is in order to ‘protect their education’;
— student nurses and midwives assert their education has never been protected while on placement because of the burden of essential nursing and care work, alongside academic work, while simultaneously needing to do other jobs to survive financially;
— during the Covid-19 pandemic, the opportunity to work in other jobs to earn income and generally survive has been largely cut off because of the risk of bringing Covid-19 infection in or out of their hospital placement;
— the health services across the country have faced huge difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff for many years, due to the chaos and under-resourcing across the health service, the low pay and the long hours of work;
— many nurses, midwives and doctors emigrate to Australia and other countries, where the pay is higher, and conditions are more favourable; and
— a survey in 2018 showed that, 71 per cent of 4th year student nurses and midwives were considering leaving the country, 79 per cent of them identified increases in pay and improvements in staffing and working conditions as the required incentives to retain nurses and midwives in the public services, and 76 per cent of them found that staffing levels are not adequate to support the learning of student nurses and midwives in the clinical setting; and
calls on the Government to:
— immediately reinstate the payment of student nurses and midwives who are in placements during the Covid-19 pandemic at the HCA rate;
— urgently engage with student nurses and midwives and their union representatives to establish a bursary or payment system that will fully acknowledge the work they do in our health service and will cover the costs of travel and accommodation for the length of their placements;
— abolish all fees for students who are training to work on the frontline of the health service in order to stem the ‘brain drain’, and allow the Health Service Executive to recruit a sufficient number of staff to run our health service at safe and adequately staffed levels; and
— ensure parity of pay, conditions and esteem for nurses and midwives with all other paramedical graduates, including the 37-hour week.”
Debate resumed on amendment No. 1:
To delete all words after “Dáil Éireann” and substitute the following:
"notes:
— the exceptional contribution that nurses and midwives, including students, have made to the Covid-19 pandemic response;
— that this was particularly important during the first wave of Covid-19 due to the high number of hospitalisations and workforce pressures;
— the associated move to temporarily suspend clinical placements with students becoming healthcare assistants and paid accordingly;
— the difference at the present time with lower hospitalisations coupled with a larger workforce allowing for the protection of educational clinical placements;
— recent positive developments for the nursing and midwifery professions, including:
— safe staffing framework;
— enhanced nurse/midwife role;
— review of placement allowances and stakeholder engagement;
— specialist practice roles;
— advanced practice;
— Expert Review Body of Nursing and Midwifery; and
— national foundation education programmes for graduates;
— the importance of continuing to protect undergraduate clinical placements;
— the existing supports for student nurses and midwives on clinical placements, including:
— clinical placement allowance for accommodation of €50.79 per week of placement;
— reimbursement of additional travel costs for placements;
— Clinical Placement Coordinators at Clinical Nurse Manager 2 level (senior grade) with ratios of 1:30 in respect of student nurses and 1:15 in respect of student midwives;
— student allocations officers in all clinical sites;
— trained preceptors on all clinical placements (one per student);
— a 36-week paid internship placement in 4th year, paid at the approved rate, that is €22,229 on an annual basis for psychiatric nursing specialism and €21,749 for all other nursing disciplines and midwifery; and
— four hours per week protected for reflection on practice; and
— the progress for student nurses and midwives on additional supports due to Covid-19, including:
— payment of the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment for those working in the health sector who may have lost their employment as a result of Covid-19, including students in these circumstances;
— occupational health supports equal to those for employees/qualified staff;
— weekly oversight, at senior multi-stakeholder level, of clinical placements and any challenges arising;
— a review of placement allowances, inclusive of independent appraisal and stakeholder engagement;
— commitment to early agreement on any potential changes to allowances; and
— new opportunities for students to achieve learning outcomes across a variety of settings, including remote environments and telehealth."

I must now deal with a postponed division relating to the motion regarding pay for student nurses and midwives. This morning, on the question, "That the amendment to the motion be agreed to", a division was claimed and in accordance with Standing Order 80(2), that division must be taken now.

Amendment put.
The Dáil divided by electronic means.

The vote was very close, with a very narrow majority supporting the Government amendment not to pay our student nurses and midwives - a disgraceful decision. Since the margin is so close, under Standing Order 83(3)(b), we call for a vote other than by electronic means in order to give all the Government Deputies from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party a moment to reflect on whether their decision not to pay our student nurses and midwives for their work on the front line was, in fact, the decision they really wanted to make.

We will have to do that as a roll call vote as we are not equipped to walk through the lobbies.

Amendment again put:
The Dáil divided: Tá, 79; Níl, 72; Staon, 0.

  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Mick Barry and Richard Boyd Barrett.
Amendment declared carried.
Question put: "That the motion, as amended, be agreed to."
The Dáil divided: Tá, 79; Níl, 72; Staon, 0.

  • Brophy, Colm.
  • Browne, James.
  • Bruton, Richard.
  • Burke, Colm.
  • Burke, Peter.
  • Butler, Mary.
  • Byrne, Thomas.
  • Cahill, Jackie.
  • Calleary, Dara.
  • Cannon, Ciarán.
  • Carey, Joe.
  • Carroll MacNeill, Jennifer.
  • Chambers, Jack.
  • Collins, Niall.
  • Costello, Patrick.
  • Coveney, Simon.
  • Cowen, Barry.
  • Crowe, Cathal.
  • Devlin, Cormac.
  • Dillon, Alan.
  • Donnelly, Stephen.
  • Donohoe, Paschal.
  • Duffy, Francis Noel.
  • Durkan, Bernard J.
  • English, Damien.
  • Farrell, Alan.
  • Feighan, Frankie.
  • Flaherty, Joe.
  • Flanagan, Charles.
  • Fleming, Sean.
  • Foley, Norma.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Harris, Simon.
  • Haughey, Seán.
  • Higgins, Emer.
  • Hourigan, Neasa.
  • Humphreys, Heather.
  • Kehoe, Paul.
  • Lahart, John.
  • Lawless, James.
  • Leddin, Brian.
  • MacSharry, Marc.
  • Madigan, Josepha.
  • Martin, Catherine.
  • Matthews, Steven.
  • McAuliffe, Paul.
  • McConalogue, Charlie.
  • McEntee, Helen.
  • McGrath, Michael.
  • McGuinness, John.
  • McHugh, Joe.
  • Moynihan, Aindrias.
  • Moynihan, Michael.
  • Murnane O'Connor, Jennifer.
  • Naughton, Hildegarde.
  • Noonan, Malcolm.
  • O'Brien, Darragh.
  • O'Brien, Joe.
  • O'Callaghan, Jim.
  • O'Connor, James.
  • O'Dea, Willie.
  • O'Donnell, Kieran.
  • O'Donovan, Patrick.
  • O'Dowd, Fergus.
  • O'Gorman, Roderic.
  • O'Sullivan, Christopher.
  • O'Sullivan, Pádraig.
  • Ó Cathasaigh, Marc.
  • Ó Cuív, Éamon.
  • Rabbitte, Anne.
  • Richmond, Neale.
  • Ring, Michael.
  • Ryan, Eamon.
  • Smith, Brendan.
  • Smyth, Niamh.
  • Smyth, Ossian.
  • Stanton, David.
  • Troy, Robert.
  • Varadkar, Leo.

Níl

  • Andrews, Chris.
  • Barry, Mick.
  • Berry, Cathal.
  • Boyd Barrett, Richard.
  • Brady, John.
  • Browne, Martin.
  • Buckley, Pat.
  • Cairns, Holly.
  • Canney, Seán.
  • Carthy, Matt.
  • Clarke, Sorca.
  • Collins, Joan.
  • Collins, Michael.
  • Connolly, Catherine.
  • Conway-Walsh, Rose.
  • Cronin, Réada.
  • Crowe, Seán.
  • Cullinane, David.
  • Daly, Pa.
  • Doherty, Pearse.
  • Donnelly, Paul.
  • Ellis, Dessie.
  • Farrell, Mairéad.
  • Fitzmaurice, Michael.
  • Fitzpatrick, Peter.
  • Gannon, Gary.
  • Gould, Thomas.
  • Guirke, Johnny.
  • Harkin, Marian.
  • Healy-Rae, Danny.
  • Howlin, Brendan.
  • Kelly, Alan.
  • Kenny, Gino.
  • Kenny, Martin.
  • Kerrane, Claire.
  • Lowry, Michael.
  • Mac Lochlainn, Pádraig.
  • McDonald, Mary Lou.
  • McGrath, Mattie.
  • McNamara, Michael.
  • Mitchell, Denise.
  • Munster, Imelda.
  • Murphy, Catherine.
  • Murphy, Paul.
  • Murphy, Verona.
  • Mythen, Johnny.
  • Nash, Ged.
  • Naughten, Denis.
  • Nolan, Carol.
  • O'Callaghan, Cian.
  • O'Donoghue, Richard.
  • O'Reilly, Louise.
  • O'Rourke, Darren.
  • Ó Broin, Eoin.
  • Ó Laoghaire, Donnchadh.
  • Ó Murchú, Ruairí.
  • Ó Ríordáin, Aodhán.
  • Ó Snodaigh, Aengus.
  • Pringle, Thomas.
  • Quinlivan, Maurice.
  • Ryan, Patricia.
  • Shanahan, Matt.
  • Sherlock, Sean.
  • Shortall, Róisín.
  • Smith, Bríd.
  • Smith, Duncan.
  • Stanley, Brian.
  • Tóibín, Peadar.
  • Tully, Pauline.
  • Ward, Mark.
  • Whitmore, Jennifer.
  • Wynne, Violet-Anne.

Staon

Tellers: Tá, Deputies Brendan Griffin and Jack Chambers; Níl, Deputies Mick Barry and Richard Boyd Barrett.
Question declared carried.