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Nursing Staff

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 December 2020

Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Questions (688)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

688. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the consideration he has given to concerns raised by nursing and midwifery third level students in relation to lack of pay; the steps his Department plans to take to address the concerns urgently; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [39876/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I recognise the importance of student nurses and midwives completing their essential clinical placements in a safe environment and also recognise the potential hardship that might arise for students on placement due to COVID 19 such as, maintaining part time employment, increased travel and additional accommodation costs.

Student nurses and midwives are not paid for clinical placements in years 1-3 and year 4 from the period of September to December of their studies and this supernumerary status is critical for learning in complex environments. Financial supports for non-intern student nurses and midwives are governed by Circular 9/2004, that provides:

- accommodation allowance up to €50.79 per week to be paid where it is necessary for a student to obtain accommodation away from their normal place of residence;

- a refund of travel expenses.

Both are paid as refunds on production of receipts.

Concerning 4th year nursing and midwifery students, the HSE continues to fund the internship employment of these students who are on rostered work placements. This includes those due to commence rostered work placement in January 2021. These 4th year student nurses and midwives on rostered work placement are 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. This rate of pay is determined by HSE circular 005/2016 and is updated in accordance with the consolidated pay scales issued on 01st October, 2020 by my Department.

In the immediate term my Department reviewed a number of supports that apply to this year’s supernumerary students which includes 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students and 4th year students from the period of September to December on clinical placements, taking into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on such placements.

In relation to the issue of lack of pay, the outcome of this review is as follows;

- Existing Accommodation and Travel allowances remain in place

Other supports relating to lack of pay either due to loss of part-time work or Covid-19 related illness made available in 2020 for student nurses and other students include:

- Enhanced Illness benefit for those students who work part time but have fallen ill with COVID-19;

- Other welfare schemes to assist with financial hardship due to illness, subject to qualifying criteria (Supplementary Welfare Allowance, Urgent Needs Payment);

- Access for eligible students to the National Access Plan (Contingency Fund) and Student Assistance Fund .

- €250 top-up for those in receipt of the SUSI grant or €250 contribution to fees to eligible students.

Details on these schemes can be obtained from DEASP and HEIs.

Separately, and for the longer term, my Department are continuing with its review of the current accommodation and travel allowances payable to students on clinical placements. The outcome from this review shall apply from the academic year commencing Autumn 2021 and onwards. I look forward to examining the outcome of this review in due course.

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