Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing students claim they are facing difficulties in remaining on hospital placement. UCD and the HSE are insistent they continue with their placements.
Medical students must complete mandatory “placements” in Irish hospitals in order to progress through their degree, consisting of practical work in a clinical setting. In a statement from a 2nd year nursing student who wishes to not be named; the Tribune has been told of a “miscommunication” from UCD on the decision to continue running medical placements.
“I don’t feel supported at all by UCD and the dean’s decision, none of us do. There is a lot of miscommunication. UCD are telling us [that] placement is going ahead from Monday the 23rd, some of the hospitals where we carry out placement are saying not to come in, the HSE are saying that we are to come in and we will get paid care allowance – UCD have told us we won’t be paid at all.”
A UCD spokesperson spoke to the Tribune on how the college are responding to the situation: “The students are being kept on across the board at the request of the HSE, unless you fall into one of three categories; You live with someone who is high risk, you are caring for a child, or the placement hospital says no.”
“We can also confirm that student nurses will not be put on wards with Covid-19 patients, they are to be kept on other healthcare wards.”
The spokesperson also addressed the issue of student accommodation difficulty: “It’s appalling hearing that students are being removed from their digs, but UCD residency will supply them with a place if they are faced with such a situation.”
Nursing student Shauna told the Tribune of the situation she is in as a result of the pandemic: “My digs landlord has told me to leave as the landlord doesn’t want her family exposed. I now face a four-hour return commute from Monaghan to carry out placement. I will also most likely have to leave my HCA job.”
A third- year student Ciara who is also a health care assistant in St Vincent’s hospital spoke to the tribune, explaining the system of medical placements: “Attendance is mandatory for placement, so if you have to make up days in third year, you do so in the first two weeks of June. Which means second year and first year students will have to make it up during mid- June, even up until early July. There is no real solution.”
TD Norma Foley has called on the government to put student nurses on the payroll, in a statement in the Irish Examiner, Ms Foley recognised the “difficult situations” students find themselves in. She addressed their “concerns over how they’ll pay rents and bills” saying “these trainees deserve to be paid like all other nurses during the Covid-19 period”.
Over a week has passed since the Taoiseach delivered his first speech on how we are to tackle COVID-19, colleges and schools have been shut, remote work has now commenced, many students have returned to their family homes – while UCD nursing students remain on the front line.
Luke Murphy – Reporter