While neither I nor my Department have a role in relation to financial supports for student nurses and midwives on clinical placements arranged by the relevant higher education institutions with health service providers, I am concerned at the difficulties faced by some students arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. Therefore, I asked my officials to raise the matter directly with the Department of Health. In response that Department stated that the Minister for Health Recognises the importance of student nurses and midwives completing their essential clinical placements in a safe environment.
Currently nursing and midwife students are not paid for clinical placements in years 1-3 of their studies. Financial supports for these non-intern student nurses and midwives are governed by Department of Health Circular No. 9/2004 which provides for an accommodation allowance of up to €59.70 per week to be paid where it is necessary for a student to obtain accommodation away from his/her normal place of residence. Payment is by way of refund on receipt on certified receipts. Students are also entitled to a refund of travel expenses based on certified receipts. Aware of a long standing commitment to review this placement allowance that was not progressed due to Covid 19, the Minister for Health announced in a speech to the Irish Nurses and Midwives organisation (INMO) on 9 October 2020 that he has asked his officials and the Chief Nurse to review the application of the current allowances in consultation with the INMO and the Psychiatric Nurses Association and to report back to him in 6 weeks.
It is understood that Minister Donnelly has also asked his officials to review the possible options for reinstating the previous arrangement of Health Care Assistant pay for students who are on clinical placements which ran for a limited period earlier this year. My officials understand from their counterparts in the Department of Health that this review is currently being progressed with a view to its conclusion by the end of this month.
Officials in the Department of Health will keep my Department advised of developments in these areas.