Nursing and midwives pay cut to be reconsidered following protests

Kate Magner

Following student lunchtime protests, the Minister of Health and Tánaiste Mary Coughlan has agreed to reconsider the eventual abolishment of pay during clinical placements for fourth year nursing and midwifery students. Hundreds of student midwives and nurses were out in force to protest last Wednesday to protest against the phasing out of fourth year clinical placement payment.

A protest took place between 12.30 and 13.30 outside Cork University Hospital as part of the INMO’s nationwide effort against the measure. Over 4,000 people protested outside the main teaching hospitals across the country.

Auditor of the UCC Nursing and Midwifery society, Meghan O’Sullivan told the Express “We were delighted with the protest, It was much bigger than expected.” Ms. O’Sullivan also echoed the view of many others, calling the government’s proposed plan “an absolute disgrace. It’s complete and utter slave labour.”

On a personal level, she said that as a nurse, it made her “feel worthless” about the work she carries out on her placement. Both she and UCC INMO rep Tanya O’Connor were happy with the high level of media coverage of the event and the support that others have given to the nursing and midwifery students.

SU president Keith O’Brien attended the protest and praised the involvement of the students with the issue. He assured the continuing aid of the UCC Students’ Union and the USI, saying “We have pledged all our support.”  When asked about the responses of the political parties to the abolition of fourth year students’ pay, he described them as weak but also acknowledged that the parties may be unable to do much about it, depending on the state’s financial resources.

In regard to the Minister of Health’s promise that the situation will be reconsidered, the opinions of many students were mixed. Tanya O’Connor said “At least if they’re reconsidering it, it’s a good step. It may be able to turn it around.” Deirdre Maloney and Aimee King, both fourth year nursing students, were less optimistic.

Ms. Maloney stated that “It depends on how much they cut. At the end of the day it is still only student nurses that they are targeting, not any other students.” For Ms. King, the review of the proposed abolishment is a positive development but “whether the government will actually do anything is uncertain. With the general election coming up, everything could change.”

A protest march in Dublin has been scheduled to take place next Wednesday the 16th of February, however with the government’s new stance it is uncertain whether this will go ahead.

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