| 16.5°C Dublin

‘My Leapcard isn’t topped up because I had to make the decision yesterday if I should eat or not’ – student nurse slams €100 weekly allowance as an ‘injustice’

Slated €2.80 per hour payment offer as ‘slap in the face’


Tessa Bock

Tessa Bock

Tessa Bock

STUDENT nurses have slated the Government’s €100 per week pandemic work payment offer as “a slap in the face” and “an injustice”.

One student nurse, Tessa Bock (21), said the financial situation facing many student nurses is such that they are left with a choice of paying for their transport to and from hospital or being able to afford to buy a takeaway.

"We had to quit jobs, sacrifice our health and our families’ health and dive right into the middle of it all," she said.

Ms Bock said they began their nursing courses knowing that there was a risk of bringing an infection home from the hospital. She acknowledged they were fully cognisant that the work would be physically and mentally draining and that it would have to balance it with assignments and exams.

"We knew that it was for education purposes and this was a part of the course. We didn’t know that we would have to do all of this during a global pandemic. Where our physical and mental health have been tested."

Tessa admitted she laughs in disbelief and anger over the fact that the Government are now discussing a €100 a week allowance for people like her.

"That’s roughly €2.80 an hour...the question is, will this really even happen?"

Tessa loves nursing and was very grateful to have the ability to train in an excellent hospital. But she stressed that student nurses have a typical day which needs to be compensated with far more than the "slap in the face" of €2.80 an hour.

"I wake every hour overthinking with panic about what the day before brought and with the nerves of what the day ahead is going to bring. I walk to the bus just to realise my Leapcard isn’t topped up because I had to make the decision yesterday if I should eat or not with the few coins I had left in my purse.”

Daily Digest Newsletter

Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

“I arrive to the hospital already exhausted but perk myself up after chatting to all the other student nurses. I go off to my ward where I’m told we’re short staffed because some nurses are out due to Covid-19. I haven’t worked with the other nurses before, I’m by myself. I receive the handover, two new patients...both Covid-19 positive."
Tess stressed that she loves being of assistance to patients.

"I check on the patients throughout the day and tend to their needs. I help feed the patients who are too weak to feed themselves. I brush the hair and paint the nails of patients whose self esteem has sank so low they can’t get out of bed. I read the newspaper and sing songs with patients who have no company and lost their smile.”

“I hold the hands of patients who are so terribly ill that they can’t speak to their family – they rely on me to be there for them. I wipe the tears of patients who don’t know when or if they’ll ever leave the hospital. I am there 12 hours of the day. I am there when they need me the most. I am there when they are at the most vulnerable. Me. And I’m so, so beyond grateful that it’s me that can be there for them.”

“I then leave. With the memory of the day forever with me. With the patients I’ve met forever in my heart."

Tessa said that she sometimes leaves work to get the bus having forgotten that she hasn't topped up her Leapcard because she doesn't have the money to do so.

"But the lady behind me sees the exhaustion in my eyes that she pays for my fare. I don’t get home till 10pm. I shower but I don’t hug my dad goodnight. I don’t have energy to have a quick bite. I don’t sleep till 12 midnight. And then the day starts all over again.”

“That is a typical day. The majority of the days are not ‘typical; on the wards. Student nurses are asked to go over and beyond their scope of practice. We are hard working students. We don’t deserve this injustice.”

Most Watched