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INMO calls on HSE to pay student nurses and midwives during Covid-19 outbreak

Hundreds of student nurses are set to begin their unpaid work placements this month.

Image: Shutterstock/megaflopp

STUDENT NURSES AND midwives completing unpaid work placements during the Covid-19 outbreak should be paid and protected as employees, the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said. 

This comes as hundreds of student nurses across the country are set to begin their unpaid work placements this month. 

For many of them, today is the day when they begin their six-week placement but unlike the other areas of the health service where recruitment is underway in earnest, these students won’t be paid for their work.

Although this is a common practice – doing unpaid work to earn enough hours to become fully qualified – some students are calling for extra supports given the public health crisis affecting every facet of Irish society at present.

Across all years of university, student nurses are required to work unpaid to get the necessary number of working hours needed to become fully qualified. From 4th year onwards, these nurses receive some payment but they do complete a large chunk of their placements unpaid across their college course.

Now, the INMO has said that if student nurses and midwives are working “they should be paid”. 

The organisation yesterday met with the Department of Health and the HSE and it raised “the need for an urgent decision on student nurse and midwife placement”. 

It sought that a single national decision would be made to “ensure a consistent approach for all students across Ireland”. 

The INMO said that if a clinical placement coordinator (CPC) is not available to a student on clinical placement, then the placement “cannot continue”. 

“The purpose of a placement is to train the student, not provide extra resources to the health service,” it said. 

It added that if the health service cannot provide proper training during the Covid-19 crisis, “then they need to change the status of students on placement”. 

The organisation sad that should this be the case, it has asked the HSE and Department of Health to work with it to make representations to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI). 

“We want them to allow some relaxation of need to repay time not attended on clinical placement, given these extraordinary circumstances, so that this crisis does not negatively affect you getting your qualification,” the INMO said. 

The INMO tweeted that “the HSE should offer students proper, paid employment, with the protections that go along with being a proper employee. This should be in line with their existing training and skills”. 

In its statement, it added: “We have repeatedly warned the HSE of the difficulties now experienced by students in areas of accommodation for placements and also lack of consistent supervision in the clinical placement”. 

The INMO said the HSE will advise the organisation of its position this morning on the continuation of clinical placements. 

The HSE and the Department of Health have been contacted by TheJournal.ie for comment.  

With reporting by Sean Murray

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