Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Questions (244)

David Cullinane


244. Deputy David Cullinane asked the Minister for Health if the case of a person (details supplied) will be addressed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27775/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

As the Deputy is aware, Irish nurses and midwives are graduate professionals who complete a four-year BSc Nursing degree or a BSc Midwifery degree. The Nursing Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) is the independent regulatory body for nursing and midwifery. As a core function the NMBI engages with 13 Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) and continues to monitor educational programmes and clinical placement locations. The education and training of nurses and midwives is a robust process. The degree programmes are provided by the HEIs, and the content is evaluated by the NMBI to ensure all courses comply with EU Directive 2005/36/EC (Recognition of Professional Qualifications in Practice) and the relevant national standards.

As Minister, I am acutely aware of the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic for student nurse and midwives, and indeed for the entire health workforce.

There is no doubt that the provision of education programmes for healthcare students during a pandemic is challenging. Recognising these challenges, I secured additional supports and protections for student nurses and midwives which included access to the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and additional occupational health supports equal to those of employees, while on clinical placement. Furthermore, a Clinical Placement Oversight Group has been monitoring student clinical placements during the pandemic. In order to ensure the safe and effective fulfilment of required clinical and practice placements, this Group, informed by real-time information and data from all hospital groups and HEIs, provided regular updates to me.

Undergraduate nursing students who do not achieve competence in the clinical environment while on placement are provided with further opportunities to meet the relevant requirements through a period of additional practice placement/repeat placement in line with local HEI policy. Students are afforded three opportunities to successfully complete a clinical placement. However, students are not permitted to progress to the next stage of their programme or year without successful completion of the required clinical placement modules for the current stage or year. Each HEI has designated appeals processes and procedures, with identified exit pathways for student nurses who do not successfully complete the required clinical placement modules for the current stage or year.

As the Deputy is aware, I cannot comment on an individual case. However, I note that regarding the case he has highlighted, the appeals procedures is still active.