Join student nurses this Saturday 4th June crying "Bursary or Bust"

Student nurses spend long hours caring for the sick - they shouldn't have to 'pay to work', and the attack on their bursary is a key part of government attacks on the NHS.

Anthony Johnson
3 June 2016
bursaryorbust nurse protest crowd placards.jpg

Image: Student nurses protesting in January. Rights: Ron F/The Weekly Bull/Flickr. Some rights reserved.

The NHS is having to spend untold sums to defend its services from takeover by Virgin and other private firms – and it’s losing the fight. Just this week, the local NHS provider lost its battle to keep Kent’s community health services in the NHS, and the contract will now be awarded to Virgin. As the report says, “It is not known how much the three NHS organisations have spent on legal fees.” But such costs are everywhere in the marketised NHS – the additional administration costs of running the NHS as a market are estimated to be at least £10bn a year and maybe as high as £30bn a year.

 We should remember that when we hear that the NHS needs further ‘efficiency savings’. Or that our junior doctors don’t deserve a fair salary.

Or that we should force healthcare students to pay to work, even?

Because that’s exactly what is happening with the proposed changes to the NHS bursary. On the 4th June, outside St. Thomas’ Hospital, students, staff and patients will be gathering to fight for our NHS. To say that we disagree with NHS bursary changes which ask students to pay for the privilege of giving care to the most vulnerable.

We will march to the Department of Health and cry out that we are still willing to fight for our NHS. Not just because it is a disgrace to make anyone to pay to work but because our NHS will not be able to cope with the loss of thousands of future staff.

If you support us, if you still have the will to fight for your health service because you know that you will one day need it, then join us. Our ancestors sacrificed much for us to have the NHS in a time of true austerity.

And this year, junior doctors, community pharmacists, healthcare students and most importantly patients, have all had to fight for our human right to healthcare. It has been a struggle for everyone involved but it is worth it because we still believe in the NHS. We still believe in the principle of a universal, publicly funded and organised healthcare system, cradle to grave.

It is not just a moral obligation but one which is backed up by evidence. Private healthcare does not work. It does not improve patient care or reduce costs. What it does do is make it more likely for you to have unnecessary treatment or to become bankrupt, but it is not a system which should be implemented in a country which is aiming to provide a cost-effective and efficient health service. It is a neoliberal monstrosity. And it’s beginning to be implemented here, with the costs borne by staff, healthcare students, and patients alike.


Can you attend one more protest? #BursaryOrBust

How do we work after coronavirus?

The pandemic has profoundly changed our working lives. Millions have lost their jobs; others have had no choice but to continue working at great risk to their health. Many more have shouldered extra unpaid labour such as childcare.

Work has also been redefined. Some workers are defined as 'essential' – but most of them are among the lowest-paid in our societies.

Could this be an opportunity?

Amid the crisis, there has been a rise in interest in radical ideas, from four-day weeks to universal basic income.

Join us on 5pm UK time on 20 August as we discuss whether the pandemic might finally be a moment for challenging our reliance on work.

In conversation:

Sarah Jaffe, journalist and author of 'Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone', due to be published next year.

Amelia Horgan, academic and author of 'Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism', also due to be published next year.

Chair: Alice Martin, advisory board member of Autonomy, a think tank dedicated to the future of work.

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