Student nurses and midwives are being exploited without pay during the Covid-19 crisis, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said today.
The organisation said that students on placements in hospitals across Ireland are “effectively being asked to work as staff for no pay” while facing Covid-19 risks.
According to the INMO, a HSE scheme to pay students on healthcare assistant salaries was used at the start of the pandemic in March but it is no longer operating.
The INMO said it met with officials from the Department of Health today, but there was “no progress” on the issue.
“Our students are being taken for granted. They are facing huge workloads and risking Covid infection. And while they are doing indispensable work, they are getting no financial recognition for their efforts,” INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said.
“They do not have the protections provided to employees. While most third-level students are advised to stay off campus and study online, nursing and midwifery students have to attend very dangerous workplaces to fulfil their learning objectives.
“It is beyond time to respect their contribution and pay them. The message is simple: stop exploiting student nurses and midwives.”
The INMO is calling for the payment for student nurses provided in March to be reintroduced immediately and for student allowances to be increased substantially.
According to the group, before their final year internship most student nurses and midwives receive either no compensation or an allowance of €50.79 per week.
The organisation said many students have also faced income loss as they are no longer able to work part time as care assistants while studying, due to the infection risk of working in a care home while also on placement in a hospital.