Student nurses and midwives to be pulled from placement

College has addressed student nurses and midwives affected by this decision, noting that the announcement does not have any implications for students who are not due to attend supernumerary clinical placements

Today, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, authorised the move to pull over 2000 student nurses and midwives in first, second and third year from their placements. 

The HSE previously contacted the Chief Nursing Officer at the Department of Health who made the recommendation to pull the students from placement to Donnelly.

It is understood that this will not affect students completing their final year internship. 

This move is intended to free senior nurses who oversee training of students so that they may return to frontline duties amid the worsening Covid-19 situation in hospitals around the country. 

Following the announcement was made in the Irish Times, Trinity sent an email to students affected by this move.

In the email seen by Trinity News, Padraig Dunne on behalf of the Head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery noted that this announcement does not have any implications for students who are not due to attend supernumerary clinical placements over the coming two weeks. This includes bother Junior Fresh and Junior Sophister student nurses and midwives in Trinity. 

Online classes are to continue for these students as per their academic timetable.

The email also advised that the Director of Undergraduate Teaching and Learning, Dr Damien Brennan will be communicating further with the affected students on Monday January 18.

Speaking to Trinity News, two student nurses voiced their opinions on the latest government decision. 

“It seems like Stephen Donnely would rather pull students from placement than pay us,” one student stated. “We signed up for this course because we want to help.”

She continued: “We’ve already missed out on four weeks placement from last March.”

“Saying that they are pulling us off placement so that senior staff can focus on frontline work makes us seem like a hindrance.”

Student nurses were also suspended from working on the frontline during the start of the pandemic.

There have been recent debates over student nurse pay in the Dáil, with government voting down an opposition motion to pay the students working on the frontline last December. All opposition and independent TD’s voted in favour. 

Another student nurse who is currently in her senior fresh year, spoke to Trinity News today, expressing her frustration at missing more mandatory placement time, stating “how do they expect us to become competent nurses when we aren’t allowed on the wards long enough to learn”.

During the height of the first wave of the pandemic, former Minister for Health Simon Harris announced that student nurses would be paid “throughout the duration of the pandemic”. At the time, he stated that the country needed “all hands on deck” during the coronavirus crisis and praised student nurses’ “brilliant work they are doing in this difficult time”. 

During this time, 1,350 students took up the roles as Health Care Assistants to assist the HSE in fighting the pandemic.

The Irish Times learned today that the HSE told the Department of Health that there is no need for a national scheme to employ the student nurses as healthcare assistants during this third wave of the pandemic.

Placements will end for a two-week period and the situation will then be reviewed by the Department of Health. 

Students are expected to continue receiving their €50.79 per week placement allowance during this time. 

Kate Henshaw

Kate Henshaw is the Assistant News Editor of Trinity News, and a Senior Fresh Sociology and Social Policy student.