Dáil Éireann - Volume 568 - 17 June, 2003

Written Answers. - Student Nurse Education.

[1353]  369. Mr. Gormley asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a person (details supplied) has been dropped from a nursing course at University College Cork after completing her first year examinations due to the fact that she refused to receive two vaccines on medical and religious grounds; if his attention has further been drawn to the fact that this person and a number of her relations have previously had serious reactions to immunisations; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16976/03]

  Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): Student nurse education is provided in partnership between higher education institutes and health agencies. In the case of University College Cork, the partnership is with the Southern Health Board. The pre-registration nursing degree requires clinical placements as an integral part of the programme. The clinical placement of the students is arranged by University College Cork in hospitals and other health care centres within the Southern Health Board, the voluntary hospitals and other services in the region. While the clinical placement takes place in health agencies, the student is registered with the higher education institute.

  As part of the preparation for the clinical placement, students are required to undergo a health assessment process. This process is similar to that which is required for all staff and students who have clinical contact with patients. The measures are taken to ensure the protection of staff, students and patients.

  In the case of the student concerned, she attended with colleagues at the occupational health department of Cork University Hospital on 10 December 2002. At that meeting she indicated that she did not wish to proceed further with the vaccination-screening programme. She was invited back to the Department to discuss the issue further, but did not respond to any of the Department's letters. She was written to on 20 December 2002 and 31 January 2003. Telephone messages were left for her on 15 January 2003 and 22 January 2003. Following further discussions with nurse management and the occupational health department at Cork University Hospital, and with the head of the department of nursing studies of University College Cork, it was decided to write to the student again.

  The personnel officer of the Southern Health Board wrote to her on 28 May 2003. In his letter he indicated that it was regretted that, unless she met the requirements outlined on behalf of the board by the occupational physician, it would not be in a position to facilitate her clinical placement commencing on Wednesday, 4 June 2003.

  The student made an appointment and visited the occupational physician on Thursday, 29 May 2003. At that meeting she confirmed that she did not wish to undertake the procedures. The matter was again discussed between the health board [1354]and the university. The student was advised by letter dated 30 May 2003 that the board would not be in a position to provide her with her clinical placement commencing 4 June 2003.

  The university confirms that the students in the first year of the BSc nursing degree have not yet completed the first year of the programme. While all theoretical components have been completed and are currently being examined, the clinical placement is being undertaken. Decisions on progress into second year will not be made until the autumn university examination boards.