Midwifery student placements suspended in Ireland due to COVID-19

on 21 January 2021

Midwifery student placements have been temporarily suspended in Ireland due to the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting approximately 2,000 student nurses and midwives.

All clinical placements for student midwives in years 1-3 have been suspended for two weeks from 18 January 2021.

In a statement from the Department of Health it said: “In response to the current surge of COVID-19, and its impact on staffing across the health service, particularly in critical care areas, all options to maximise workforce are being actioned.

“The temporary suspension of these student placements will free up clinical placement co-ordinators, practice co-ordinators, as well as nurses and midwives working in other educational and policy development roles so they can support the HSE at this challenging time.

“Students in Year 4, the final year before qualification, are counted for rostering purposes as 0.5 of fulltime equivalent nurse/midwife. Student nurse and midwives placements for interns, who are in fourth year, will continue with the appropriate education and support infrastructure in place.”

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisations (INMO) has called for clarity on the situation for final-year student midwives and has requested for their pay to be increased to the healthcare assistant grade as it was in March 2020.

In a statement, the union said “this would reflect the workload and risk those final-year interns face.”

INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “Students have been put in incredibly risky situations with no pay and weakened protections. Those interns who are being asked to continue working need to be valued properly. Earlier in the pandemic, their pay was increased to take account of the risks and workload they faced. The Minister should do the right thing and reinstate that policy.”

Chief Nursing Officer from the Department of Health, Rachel Kenna, said: “I recognise the enormous commitment students have made in participating in the clinical learning environments at a very challenging time.

“The education of student nurses and midwives is a priority for all of us, but this must be done safely, with the appropriate supports [sic] and supervision structures in place.”

Source: Irish Examiner