Government will have to provide extra funds for student nurse pay deal

Insufficient money in health budget to meet €4m cost of new agreement

The new arrangement will set student nurse rates at 70 per cent of the first point of the staff nurses incremental pay scale. Up to 1,400 student nurses are expected to benefit from the new arrangements.

The new arrangement will set student nurse rates at 70 per cent of the first point of the staff nurses incremental pay scale. Up to 1,400 student nurses are expected to benefit from the new arrangements.

 

The next government will have to provide additional funding to the health service to meet the cost of pay rises agreed earlier this week for student nurses.

The move effectively breaches the current official position that no supplementary estimates to government departments will be provided in 2016 and that overruns will have to be dealt with by means of internal savings or contributions from other parts of the public service.

Under an agreement announced by the Government and trade unions on Monday, pay rates for student nurses are to increase from between €6.49 and €7.79 an hour at present to €9.49 an hour from next month.

The new arrangement will set student nurse rates at 70 per cent of the first point of the staff nurses incremental pay scale. Up to 1,400 student nurses are expected to benefit from the new arrangements. However, it is understood that there is not sufficient money in the health service budget to pay for the €4 million cost of the new deal.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said this week that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform would be providing additional funding later in the year.

On Tuesday, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said “future funding will be provided for these measures in the context of the estimates process”. On Wednesday, in a second statement, the Department of Public Expenditure said it was liaising with the Department of Health on final sanction for the deal.

“The sums involved [€4 million] are very small in the context of both health and overall voted expenditure and will be considered by Government as the year progresses.”

Under the new arrangement, student nurses will also receive incremental credit for the 36 weeks they spend working in hospitals and clinical settings before finishing their courses. This means that when they take up posts in the public health system, they will move to the second point of the pay scale after 16 weeks. This move is worth more than €2,000.

The new deal effectively reverses cuts in remuneration for student nurses introduced in 2011 and 2012.