The decision by the government to phase out pay for 4th year student nurses is further evidence of the attack on frontline staff in hospitals around the country, says Donegal NE candidate Ryan Stewart.
He said: “Unlike a normal internship during studies, these members of staff provide a vital service, replacing full-time nursing staff and looking after their own patients, and performing the same functions as a fully qualified member of staff.
“This payment is an essential component of continuing their education, not just to pay for uniforms, tuition fees, and cost of living, it also contributes to a sense of earning, and being a part of a working team. Being paid while you participate in the workplace contributes to your value in that team and gives nurses a sense of belonging.
“These nurses are an integral part of the health service and deserve to be treated with respect. The money they receive also contributes to the local economy, so this has a double impact for a town like Letterkenny, and can be viewed in the same vein as a significant loss of jobs, as the students will not have the money to spend locally. The cut equates to 1600 ‘job losses’ around the country, which would be a bodyblow in anyone’s language.
“But not only is it an attack on nursing, it is an attack on education. It is my belief that trained professionals and graduates earn more than unqualified people, and pay higher taxes for the rest of their lives, and this pays the way for those who follow in their footsteps. If we fail to support those in education, we will not be able to pay for education in the future.”