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Taoiseach says reports of 'exploitation and abuse' of student nurses should be investigated

Martin specifically referenced testimony raised about a student midwife who comforted a mother who lost a baby.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin,
Taoiseach Micheál Martin,
Image: Oireachtas.ie

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said there should be investigations by the HSE if student nurses are being “exploited or abused” by being asked to do work outside their training.

Speaking at Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil as the issue of student nurses was raised for a second day, Martin said testimony read out by deputies including Mary Lou McDonald TD and Paul Murphy TD should be forwarded to health authorities.  

“I would say to you deputy in terms of the testimonies that you have put forward, and indeed other deputies have, they should be forwarded to me and to the HSE, because in some instances, they represent an abuse of student nurses, and an exploitation of student nurses,” the Taoiseach said. 

Martin went on to say that first year student nurses are meant to do clinical placements of six weeks at a time but that if they are being rostered for work it is wrong. 

“If nurses are rostered for a 13 hour shift or a 10 hour shift, they should be paid. Nursing directors and hospitals are disputing that and that is now being investigated, the Minister for Health is investigating that,” the Taoiseach said.

“The cases that were referenced yesterday, should be sent in and there should be an investigation. Because no first year student should be treating a Covid patient,” he added.

Martin said that such a situation would represent “an abuse” and that “no director of nursing should be enabling it”. 

Martin also specifically referenced a testimony raised in the Dáil yesterday by Rise TD Murphy. 

The deputy had read out an account he said he received from a student midwife: 

I have dressed and laid out babies who have passed away to be shown to their parents for the first time.  I have cried with women who have been told that their baby has died while they are alone in hospitals with the current restrictions. 

The Taoiseach said that this case and others like it should be investigated.

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“We hears here yesterday that a student nurse had to console a mother at the bedside with her dead baby. Now if that happened that demands an investigation,” he said.

The question of conditions for student nurses has been in the headlines after the government voted against a motion to pay them for clinical placement during the pandemic. 

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