Four leading health unions are calling on the UK Government to abolish tuition fees for student midwives, nurses and allied healthcare students highlighting their contribution to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), UNISON and the National Union of Students (NUS) have written a joint letter to Health Secretary Matt Hancock asking him to “acknowledge students’ selfless service, not only in words, but in a tangible and quantifiable way.”
The letters asks for:
- The reimbursement of tuition fees or forgive current debt for all nursing, midwifery and allied healthcare students
- Abolish student-funded tuition fees for all nursing, midwifery and allied healthcare courses starting in 2020/21 and beyond, in recognition of students supporting public services
- The introduction of universal, living maintenance grants that reflect the needs of students
Commenting, RCM CEO Gill Walton said: “Our students make an invaluable contribution to the health of our country, both during and after their training. Never has that been more apparent that during this current crisis, not only with those formally entering the workforce but many other volunteering in health and care settings.”
NUS Vice-President Welfare Eva Crossan added: “The contribution of nurising, midwifery and allied healthcare students to our society has always been immense but for too long has not been adequately recognised. The very cohorts of healthcare students currently experiencing unparalleled disruption to their education and volunteering to work on the frontline against coronavirus are those who were also forced by government to pay tuition fees and study without an NHS bursary.
Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, Donna Kinnair, said: “Before the pandemic, we had witnessed the devastating impact the introduction of tuition fees had on student nurse numbers, with a 31% reduction in university application for nursing courses since 2016. This is a major reason why the nursing workforce in England entered the covid-19 crisis with almost 40,000 unfilled posts – and with one arm effectively tied behind its back.”
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