New graduate scheme will force nurses to emigrate, warns students’ union

More nursing graduates will be forced to emigrate unless the Minister for Health abandons its new graduate scheme.

That is according to NUI Galway Students’ Union which has condemned the initiative for student nurses. It says it aims to recruit nursing graduates at 80 per cent of the lowest point in the current nursing salary.

Nursing graduates, who are fully qualified and registered, will now start on a salary of €22,000, a cut of €11,470 from 2009 salaries.

NUI Galway Students’ Union president, Paul Curley, claims the graduate scheme is a “nice” term for describing the way the Department of Health is “shafting” newly qualified nurses and midwives who have studied for years for their qualifications.

“They’re being faced with their starting salaries being cut again. We’re not talking about top earning consultants here. These are the people at the coalface of the health service. This is exploitation by the department and it’s not how we should be rewarding those who look after our families and friends in need of treatment.”

Liam Loughnane, a final year NUI Galway nursing student, said after studying for four years for a nursing degree he hoped to be in a position to begin a career here and start clearing his debts.

“However, after four years of study and working in hospitals my gross salary will be €22,000. I didn’t expect to be wealthy by becoming a nurse. But I thought that four years of study together with the work we do would stand for something.”

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