Image: Danielle Tiplady speaking at student nurses walkout last week.
On the same day as the doctors’ strike last week, the government launched its ‘consultation’ on its plans to scrap bursaries for nursing students and other NHS trainees, announced in Osborne’s spending review.
NHS students work incredibly hard. We are the glue of the NHS, entirely committed to our professions and patients.
To take away an already small bursary is insulting. It marks the complete death of state education of nurses, and a huge threat to the future workforce of the NHS.
Since the bursary cuts were announced, students have demonstrated, protested, and lobbied MPs. I even had the chance to debate MP Ben Gummer over the issue. He claimed we had the same interests in the NHS!
The government are not listening to us – but our protests are growing. On February 10th we walked out of placements for one hour to show solidarity with the junior doctors and defend our NHS bursary. This was a historic moment - the biggest stand student nurses had so far taken against this government and their destruction of our NHS. And last Wednesday, during the junior doctors strike, we walked out again between 10am-12pm.
We cannot let our NHS be pushed any further into crisis. It’s up to all of us to take action if we don’t want to lose the NHS forever.
The public can show support for nursing students and junior doctors by joining us on the People's Assembly ‘March for health, homes jobs and education' on the 16th of April. Let’s have the biggest NHS bloc we possibly can.
Austerity affects each and every one of us, so this is not just a demonstration for the bursary; it is a demonstration for us all.
As healthcare professionals and patients we are faced daily with the devastating cuts which carve deep into our NHS, affecting the most vulnerable.
On a night shift in accident and emergency we help care for and treat patients who regularly visit the department due to having their benefits and services cut.
The homeless patients who are desperate simply for a warm bed to sleep in. The elderly patients who’ve been laying on their floor for days due to cuts in social care and not being able to have access to a carer – and whose outcomes after laying on the floor for days, post-stroke, have been significantly reduced. We comfort such patients, and the neighbours who eventually got alarmed and called the police, as they realise the patient may never be able to walk or swallow again. And we see the patients who come in after trying to commit suicide due partly to coalition cuts. Patients hit by the bedroom tax or the inappropriate withdrawal of other benefits they relied on – who sometimes end up so frightened of not being able to pay their rent the only way they see out is to attempt to take their own life.
Austerity measures not only affect the patients, but our colleagues as well. The junior contract – that Jeremy Hunt has insisted again, will be imposed – will mean longer hours that will be bad for doctors and bad for patient safety.
And the threat to NHS students is severe. George Osborne plans to end the bursaries not just for student nurses, midwives and all of the associated healthcare professionals. These students will be paying over £50,000 to train in courses which see them work and directly contribute to patient care for 2300 hours, if not more. These hefty loans will then be paid back from a salary which is capped at a 1% rise over the next four years. In real terms nurses, midwives and all associated healthcare professionals have lost 10% pay since 2008.
The stark reality we are faced with daily is that the government are trying to sell the NHS off piece by piece.
It feels like we are being set up to fail. To be angry enough to walk away from our patients and our NHS – and either leave our professions, emigrate, or go private.
Is this what the government wants?
If it’s not what YOU want, please join us on 16th April and help us say ‘NO’ to cuts and closures, YES to investing in health workers and ending the staffing crisis. And to say NO to privatisation, and YES to a fully funded and publicly owned NHS.
OurNHS has exposed sneaky moves towards charging for vital health services, withdrawing services, hospital sell-offs and the shocking failures of privatisation. We need your help. Our start-up funders can no longer support us - so we’re asking readers to step in and save OurNHS.