“WHY are nurses, priceless, but penniless?” Cork Solidarity TD Mick Barry asked Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly in the Dáil on Tuesday as student nurses protested outside the building.
Why are nurses priceless but penniless? Class poster on display outside #Dail before this evening's debate on the State's treatment of nurses and midwives. #PayStudentNursesandMidwives pic.twitter.com/ikpLxgD9cl— Mick Barry TD (@MickBarryTD) November 2, 2021
Mr Barry said:
Under new proposals, Minister Donnelly endeavours to increase fourth years student nurses placement pay by 12.5% alongside an extension of the €100 a week payment for first, second and third year students.
“Students going back into the hospitals, they are working in the Covid wards, they are working in other wards with Covid patients, the number in ICUs and hospitals are going to increase, could they double, could they treble?.
“Already the system is leaning heavily for reliance on those student nurses, that will increase in the days and week ahead.”
Mr Barry said the payment was not enough.
“It's not enough, it doesn’t take account of the fact that these nurses are wearing PPE, it doens’t take account of the financial pressures that have come on them on the back of the pandemic.
“Students who have vulnerable, immuno compromised parents or siblings at home who have had to move out and pay rent and the cost of rent is very very high as we know
"Or have to give up their part-time job, because you can’t go from working in the Covid ward straight into a part-time job, to protect their workmates.”
Breaking down the payment, Mr Barry said: “€100 euro per week for first, second and third years, thats €2.50 an hour, that is less than a quarter of minimum wage, its an insult minister they should be paid the healthcare assistant rate, they were paid the healthcare assistant rate at the start of the pandemic and that should be done again now.
The Cork TD said it was a “no brainer.”