Student nurses and midwives are to engage with two independently-verified reviews of their remuneration and conditions that have been established by the Government.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly had proposed the reviews and that the details of how they would operate had been finalised on Wednesday.
The INMO said the first review would focus on short-term matters and would report back to the Minister by the end of the month with the recommendations to be implemented in January. It said education expert Prof Tom Collins had been appointed as the independent chair of this review.
The union said the second review would look at longer-term issues and would take place in January and February, with a view to its findings being implemented for the academic year starting in September.
There has been major political controversy about pay and working conditions for student nurses and midwives over recent weeks. Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dáil on Tuesday that a student nurse on a clinical placement was a full-time student.
“If a nurse is asked to do work for a roster, that nurse should be paid by the employer for such a roster.”
Fourth year student nurses and midwives on rostered work placements are paid the equivalent of an annual salary of €21,749 in most disciplines, but this rises to the equivalent of €22,229 for those specialising in psychiatric nursing.
Students in other years of their studies recive an accommodation allowance of up to €50.79 per week, which is paid where it is consdiered necessary for a student to obtain accommodation away from their normal place of residence. They also receive a refund of their travel expenses, with both paid on the production of receipts.
The INMO said the feedback from its student members was “cautiously in favour of guarded engagement” with the reviews. The organisation and the student nurses and midwives would “ feed into the review and reserve a final judgement until the outcomes are published”, it said.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha, the INMO general secretary, said student nurses and midwives “are doing incredible work on the frontlines during this pandemic” and have overwhelming public support.
“Over 70,000 people have pledged their support to students via a petition. It is clear that the public understand that valuing our student nurses and midwives means fair payments and conditions when working in the frontline during a pandemic,” she said.
“Our student members have rightly given a cautious response to the Minister’s proposed reviews. The rapid timeline for implementation is very welcome, but ultimately the reviews’ actual proposals will determine our student members’ response.”