Over 200 people have attended a protest outside Leinster House to protest poor placement conditions and pay for Student Nurses.
Student nurses and midwives have called for payment and better working conditions for quite some time, with the Covid-19 pandemic exposing the reality of placement for many students.
The McHugh Report, a document on student nurses pay was submitted to the government in August but was yet to be published at the time of the protest.
Ciarán Freeman, a student nurse from NUI Galway discussed with SIN how the treatment of student nurses and midwives has made him feel.
“From a personal point of view, it’s left me with quite a cynical taste in my mouth how we’ve been treated by the government,” stated Freeman.
“The conditions we are fighting against, they always existed before the pandemic, but when you add in a virus that if you catch could make you critically unwell or kill you, that adds to your urgency in fighting for your conditions, your pay and your overall experience not just for yourself but those around you.
“It’s made me realise the work of a nurse and the value of a nurse to protect society and has made me really passionate to fight for it,” he finished.
Clodagh McGivern, Vice President and Education Officer for NUI Galway’s Students Union, attended the protest on Tuesday and heard the level of frustration among protesters outside Leinster House.
“They’re not getting paid for any of their work at all. It would be completely different if they were being shadowed and learning on the job but that’s not what they’re doing,” stated McGivern.
“They’re working long hours and then working part time jobs at the weekend they are completely burnt out”.
“They’ve essentially been working for free, during something as stressful as Covid. No student nurse should be put in that position to have to go on the frontline for our country at the middle of the pandemic.”
During the protest, McGivern heard the financial difficulties some students have faced due to placement.
“Someone told me they are getting €20 a week, yet it costs €16 a week to park at the hospital. It makes no sense at all,” she added.
President of NUI Galway’s Student Union Róisín Nic Lochlainn described the treatment of student nurses as a “slap in the face”, while also calling on the government to take action.
“Over the past two years, everything would’ve crumbled without the health services, without our student nurses and midwives, you don’t have a health service without student nurses and midwives,” said Nic Lochlainn.
“The Government announced the 12.5% for Student Nurses on internships but that’s not good enough. What about the back payment for student Nurses and midwives who’ve been on these internships since January? Being told you’re going to get paid at some point isn’t good enough, it doesn’t pay the bills.
“There’s so much talk and tweets but it’s time the government put their money where their mouth is, and show them the support they deserve.”
As a result of the treatment nurses have received through their placement, there is fears that the future of nurses in Ireland is at risk, something Ms Nic Lochlainn has addressed.
“What is someone going to do if they want to study nursing or midwifery, but they are faced with the dilemma that they aren’t going to get paid for it, especially with the rising cost of living in Ireland?,” asked Nic Lochlainn.