Student nurses working in hospitals on placement during the pandemic should be paid, the SDLP has said.
Stormont Health Committee member Colin McGrath MLA said student nurses are "putting themselves out on the frontline working to protect us from the spread of Covid-19". But he added that "unlike many of their colleagues in our hospitals they are not being paid".
"Student nurses have already paid thousands of pounds in tuition for the academic year which has been cut short, many have had to give up part-time jobs to scrub up and join the fight against Covid-19," the South Down MLA said. "It is completely unjust that they are not being remunerated in any way for their time or effort.
"Student nurses who are providing a vital service in our hospitals also have living expenses. They cannot be expected to be reliant on family or take out costly student loans to sustain them."
Mr McGrath added: "Student nurses are playing a critical role in the fight back against Covid-19, putting themselves in harm's way to protect all of us.
"They deserve fair treatment and fair pay. I will be raising this matter with the Health Minister and the Minister for Economy to see how we can fairly remunerate these workers."