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Student nurses protest in Dublin

Irish Times, 2/16/11

Student nurses march through Dublin over the proposed abolition of pay for fourth-year full-time trainee nurses and midwives. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

By: MARTIN WALL, Industry correspondent
February 16, 2011
The Irish Times

Over 3,000 student nurses and midwifes have taken part in a rally at the Department of Health in Dublin today in protest at Government plans to phase-out and ultimately eliminate payments for their mandatory 36-week placement in hospitals.

Siptu nursing official Louise O'Reilly said that nurses would punish those who made the decision to introduce the cuts in the forthcoming general election.

Liam Dolan from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation urged student nurses to tell their TDs that they would not vote for them if they did not pledge to reverse the cuts.

Mr Dolan said that the unions would meet with Fianna Fáil on the issue tomorrow.

Des Kavanagh of the Psychiatric Nurses Association said the decision to make the cuts was a final act of betrayal by the former minister of health Mary Harney.

He said the Opposition parties should be clear and unambiguous in their support for student nurses and that "woolly soundbites are not acceptable."

Minister for Health Mary Coughlan last week has asked the secretary-general of her department to carry out a review of the decision to abolish student nurse payments from 2015.

It is understood the review will focus only on the plan to abolish completely the payments from 2015 and plans to reduce the level of payments made to student nurses and midwives over the coming years will remain in place.

The Government announced in late December that it planned to reduce and ultimately abolish payments made to fourth-year nurses and midwives in training during their mandatory 36-week placements in hospitals.

They are currently paid 80 per cent of the salary of a staff nurse during this period.

The Department of Health estimates the cuts will ultimately generated savings of €28 million.

About 3,500 student nurses and midwives took part in demonstrations at 13 hospitals around the country last Wednesday against the planned cuts as unions promised to make them a major issue in the general election.

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