Varadkar and Lynch announce increase in pay for Student Nurses and Midwives

The Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, and Minister for Mental Health, Primary Care and Social Care (Disabilities and Older People), Kathleen Lynch, are pleased to announce an increase in pay for student nurses and midwives, arising from the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The decision, taken in conjunction with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, means an increase in the rate of pay for the clinical nursing/midwifery placement undertaken by student nurses/midwives in the 4th year of their degree programme to 70% of the 1st point of the Staff Nurse salary scale.

The decision will take effect from 1st March and will benefit around 1,400 student nurses this year and in all subsequent years.

The measure was proposed by the Department of Health in conjunction with the HSE and the nursing unions. Both Ministers thanked their colleague, Minister Howlin, for his agreement to the proposal which was put forward in the context of the Chairman’s Note attaching to the Lansdowne Road Agreement which provided for consideration of the pay rate for the placement and also consideration of incremental credit in respect of the placement.

The Ministers are equally pleased that Minister Howlin has also agreed to restore recognition of the 36 week placement for the purposes of incremental progression for 1,400 student nurses/midwives currently undertaking the placement and for all future students. The position of those who have graduated since 2011 will be considered further in the context of a review of the impact of these initiatives on retention rates of student nurses/midwives.

The Ministers said that it was a reflection of the improving economic circumstances that we are now in a position to significantly improve the rate of pay for these students and to restore recognition of the duration of the placement as public service for incremental credit purposes going forward.

Both Ministers pointed out that this latest positive measure is one of five introduced in the past few months to boost recruitment and retention of nurses. These include the first stage of pay restoration, a cut in the USC, a €1,500 vouched education bursary for new recruits, more permanent contracts, relocation payments for nurses coming from Britain, pay in return for taking on some duties from doctors and the nursing Taskforce on skills and skillmix pilot. These measures are already showing results with about 900 more nurses on the payroll compared to last year.

Note to Editors

The current pay rate for 4th Year Student Nurses/Midwives for the 36 week placement period equates to 55% of the 1st point of the Staff Nurse salary scale. The rate is rising to 70% from 1 March 2016.

A decision was taken to abolish pay for the student placement in December 2010 on a phased basis and to abolish incremental credit for the placement. Following a review in 2011 it was decided instead that the pay rate would be maintained at 50% of the 1st point of the Staff Nurse Scale. This was increased to 55% in 2013, reflecting the Trainee rates in the Minimum Wage legislation and the introduction of the 39 hour week under the Haddington Road Agreement.