STUDENT nurses will be paid for working in the health service for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, Health Minister Simon Harris has confirmed.
Around 4,000 student nurses and midwives will be offered a contract as a Healthcare Assistant - which commands a salary of around €28,000 per year - and be paid accordingly.
This will allow students to complete their placement in a HCA role and continue to complete the course.
Hundreds of student nurses have been working in hospitals and healthcare facilities as part of the battle against the spread of disease - but many are not being paid for their work. There have been widespread calls for them to be paid for working on the frontline in recent days.
At present most student nurses in their first, second and third year who are on placement do not get paid, but must earn enough hours working in the health service in order to become qualified. Only fourth-year nurses, who undertake internships are paid at a rate of just under €10.50 per hour.
Mr Harris said on Thursday: "I want to thank our student nurses and midwives for the brilliant work they are doing in this difficult time. We need all hands on deck through this challenging period.
"This is an offer and not an obligation. But I know so many of our student nurses want to play their role as we navigate our way through these difficult times.
"Our healthcare professionals have shown immense leadership and I will do everything I can to support them."
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, praised the decision saying it is good news for both students and the wider health service.
"These are dedicated, talented, hard-working people who are keen to help in the global fight against COVID-19. Taking them on as paid staff not only values their work, but offers them clear protections as employees.
“We will now engage with the government to determine the detail of this announcement, particularly on ensuring that students’ academic progression isn’t harmed by the crisis.”
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