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Student nurses agree to ‘guarded engagement’ with reviews

The Government has come under sustained criticism for not paying some student nurses working on the frontline during Covid.

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Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said student nurses have cautiously decided to engage with the Government-proposed review of their allowances and conditions (Niall Carson/PA)

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said student nurses have cautiously decided to engage with the Government-proposed review of their allowances and conditions (Niall Carson/PA)

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said student nurses have cautiously decided to engage with the Government-proposed review of their allowances and conditions (Niall Carson/PA)

Student nurses and midwives have agreed to engage with the Government-proposed, independent reviews of their allowances and conditions, a nursing union has said.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said student nurses were cautiously in favour of “guarded engagement” with the independent reviews.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly offered two reviews – details of which were finalised on Wednesday.

The INMO and students say they will feed into the review and reserve a final judgment until the outcomes are published.

The first review will focus on the immediate short term. It will report back to Mr Donnelly later this month for implementation next month, and be chaired by independent education expert Professor Tom Collins.

The second review will look at longer-term issues beyond the pandemic. It will be held in January and February, with a view to implementation in the next academic year, starting September 2021.

INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: “Student nurses and midwives are doing incredible work on the frontlines during this pandemic. They clearly 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.

“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.”

The Government has come under sustained criticism in recent weeks for not paying some student nurses, and earlier this month it voted against a motion by the opposition to pay them.

Student nurses and midwives are given allowances for working but only fourth-year students are paid a salary for their work.

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