Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, has said revelations that student nurses were deployed to plug staff shortages at one of the worst-hit nursing homes during the pandemic shows that they do vital work which deserves fair pay.
Speaking today, Teachta Cullinane said:
“Minutes of HSE crisis meetings obtained by the media reveal that student nurses were deployed to work on the frontline by plugging staff shortages at one of the worst-hit nursing homes during the pandemic.
“St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park tragically saw a major outbreak of Covid-19 throughout April and May, with 24 residents sadly losing their lives and dozens of staff becoming ill.
“These minutes reveal that student nurses were tasked with plugging staff shortages caused by staff being ill or needing to self-isolate.
“The Government has continually attempted to defend refusing to pay student nurses. Just last week, Fianna Fáil insultingly argued that this was because student nurses don’t do ‘real work’.
“This is clearly outrageous. Throughout this pandemic, thousands of student nurses have bravely worked long, exhausting shifts, to keep our families and our communities safe. Despite the potential risks to themselves, they were willing to be exposed to Covid-19 to help others.
“Today’s revelations are yet more proof of the essential work that they do. They are the backbone of our healthcare system. They deserve fair pay and conditions.
“The reality is that once student nurses and midwives step onto a hospital floor there is a large element of real work to their training. 1st, 2nd and 3rd years deserve a fair allowance and 4th years should be paid the equivalence of a Health Care Assistant.
“Earlier this month, Sinn Féin voted to ensure student nurses get fair pay but Government TDs in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens refused.
“This is an appalling way to treat student nurses who work so hard and in such stressful and difficult conditions. We will continue to hold the Government to account on this and ensure that student nurses and all healthcare staff get the fair pay and working conditions that they deserve. There can be no more excuses.”