UCD Students’ Union (SU) in conjunction with USI and eleven other nursing colleges around the country have launched a campaign to oppose the government’s decision to scrap the €200 per week salary allotted to final year nursing students on work placement.
SU Campaigns and Communications Vice-President, Pat de Brún, explained why the Students’ Union is taking such swift and serious action on the matter: “The big issue around it is that nursing internships aren’t like placement for any other course; because you actually have full medical liability, and it works out that for every two student nurses in a hospital, you remove one nurse, and it’s the exact same responsibility and the exact same liability.”
SU President Paul Lynam said of the fact that there was no consultation between the government and third level nursing colleges: “The INMO said that it was Mary Harney’s parting shot.” De Brún said, “There was no official communication to this, either to academic institutions, to nurses or to hospitals. This is something that has just filtered down from the Department of Health.”
De Brún also added that many student nurses are unaware of the proposed cuts.
At a campaign meeting in the Health Sciences building last Thursday evening, approximately one hundred students attended, ninety of those were of a nursing background. The remainder include Law and Health Sciences students. De Brún said that the impression gotten from the meeting was that the campaign has “very broad support.”
Lynam explained that this is not simply a SU priority. “We’ve outlined to USI that we see it as a top priority for them for semester two.” He furthered explained that the 12 nursing colleges in the Republic are encouraged to become involved in the campaign.
De Brún outlined their immediate plans to tackle this problem. “We’re asking people if politicians can knock it out over the next two weeks; make sure that they’re not allowed leave the house without asking them for a pledge on this.”
Lynam stated that an open meeting is being planned for tomorrow (1st February) in the Gresham Hotel at 7.30 to get public contributions regarding campaign tactics. “We’re going to look up tactics…nothing is solidified yet.”
The INMO said of the government’s proposal “The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) strongly condemns, rejects and will overtly oppose, the proposed attack, as confirmed today by the Department of Health and Children, on the pay of working student nurses.”
As regards final year nurses replacing qualified nurses, the INMO said: “The INMO would stress, contrary to the suggestion by the Department of Health, that during this 36 week period the student nurses are replacing staff nurses and are an integral part of the workforce at ward level, providing essential, direct and immediate bedside care.”