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Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 16 September 2020

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Questions (19)

Martin Browne

Question:

19. Deputy Martin Browne asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if supports are available for students who have to undertake placement in healthcare settings nursing, midwifery and medical students and as a result of Covid-19 guidelines, have had to give up paid employment for the duration of their placements; and if they will avail of the Covid-19 unemployment supports for the length of time they are unable to work. [24206/20]

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Written answers (Question to Enterprise)

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland my Department has worked with its Offices and Agencies and across Government to develop a package of supports to assists businesses to open, to help those that are already open to stay open, and to get staff back to work. Full details of these supports for business are available on my Department’s website at

https://dbei.gov.ie/en/What-We-Do/Supports-for-SMEs/COVID-19-supports/.

The provision of supports for students who are required to undertake placements in health care settings is not a matter for which my Department has responsibility. The administration of general unemployment supports rests with my colleague the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection while the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science has responsibility for the administration of the Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI) Grant.

I note, however, that on 8 September, the Minister for Health, in responding to a similar question (PQ 22140/20) concerning the financial supports that will be put in place for student nurses who are unable to work whilst on placement, stated that guidance on the resumption of clinical placements was recently issued by the Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE to all Higher Education Institutes and copied to healthcare providers. This guidance included a revised version of the HSE's document, Infection Prevention and Control Requirements for Clinical Placements in HSE facilities in the context of COVID-19. This document, among other things, sets out the requirement for Infection Prevention and Control Training for all students.  It also underlines that clinical placements are an essential part of student’s education and training, ensuring that they will continue to receive the breath of clinical experience that they require.

 The Minister indicated that, according to this guidance, students can move from a placement in one setting to a placement in another without an interval of time, provided they complete a COVID-19 Healthcare Worker Relocation Self Risk Assessment prior to commencing in a different location. Similarly, if a student continues part-time work in a healthcare setting during the same period as attending clinical placements, they are required to complete this self-assessment on an ongoing basis so that any need for testing may be identified. The guidance makes it clear that students should not present on clinical placement if they have any symptoms of acute infection.

 The Minister stated that, overall, the guidance facilitates students in completing their education and training and, in doing so, it does not preclude them from working part time so long as they adhere to the infection prevention and control requirements. He confirmed that, in terms of financial supports, there is a travel/accommodation allowance which amounts to €50.79 a week to support those students to access the clinical placements they require.  

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