Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Nurses Pay.

10.

asked the Minister for Health whether he will extend the principle of equal pay for work of equal value from general trained nurses in psychiatric hospitals to such nurses in general and other specialised hospitals.

A general trained nurse on appointment to a psychiatric hospital is required to become a qualified psychiatric nurse within three years of her appointment and until such time as she is so qualified she is paid as a trained nurse. When she becomes a qualified psychiatric nurse she is paid the salary scale which operates in psychiatric hospitals for dual qualified nurses. I do not accept that there is any breach of the principle of equal pay for work of equal value in these circumstances.

Could the Minister say why equal pay applies to psychiatric nurses and not to other nurses, including other specialised nurses? What principle is involved here?

When a nurse becomes qualified as a psychiatric nurse and has a dual role, she receives the same salary as a psychiatric nurse. She has to be qualified in both kinds of nursing.

All nurses have to be qualified and specialist nurses have to be dually qualified. This does not explain why one particular kind of specialist nurse gets equal pay with men in the same section and others do not. Why is such a distinction made?

It is also true to say that there is a current review of salaries for general trained nurses and this will alter the relationship of the salaries of the general trained nurse to that of the psychiatric nurse. It seems to me to be reasonable that in the present movement towards equal salaries, when a nurse becomes trained as a psychiatric nurse she is paid on the special scale for dually qualified nurses. I cannot see that we are going very far wide of the mark.

Would the Minister not agree that once the principle is established for one kind of nurse, it should be applied to all the other kinds? If it is not, could he explain why?

I think we are going as fast as we can in this direction.

Very slowly.