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Student nurses who answered the call to help out at the frontline during the Covid-19 crisis must be reimbursed for missed tuition, according to the Liberal Democrats.
The party has called on the government to reimburse affected student nurses for the tuition of their final term of teaching they have missed due to working on the frontline.
“It is not right that student nurses are paying fees for tuition they aren’t receiving, as they risk their own health”
It follows a similar move by unions at the start of May who said they had written to the government arguing for tuition fees to be dropped in the wake of the significant contribution by students.
In March, changes were made to standards for undergraduate nursing and midwifery students so they could opt to undertake the final six months of their programme as a clinical placement.
More than 25,000 nursing and midwifery students have opted to carry out paid clinical placements to support the virus response, according to figures from the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
It was revealed earlier this month that the huge response to the call by students meant that a temporary NMC register created for the pandemic would not need to be opened up to students.
Today’s letter to health and social care secretary Matt Hancock comes from Liberal Democrat MPs Layla Moran, Munira Wilson and Sarah Olney.
The letter states: “Given the financial hardship final year nurses have faced, and the commitment they have shown to serving the NHS during this pandemic, we ask that the government directly reimburse student nurses for their final term of tuition fees.”
Commenting separately, Ms Olney said: “Many student nurses have heroically stepped up to the frontline during the coronavirus crisis.
“Instead of having their final term of teaching, they are working to save lives in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic,” she said.
“However, they are still paying tuition fees for a course cut short by Covid-19. Although the Tories have thankfully reversed their decision to scrap nurses’ bursaries in 2015, this has still left the current cohort of final year nurses without financial support.”
“It is not right that student nurses are paying fees for tuition they aren’t receiving, as they risk their own health to care for our loved ones during the pandemic,” said Ms Olney, MP for Richmond Park.
“They are on the frontline working to slow the spread of the virus and provide critical care for those in need.”
She added: “The government must step up and directly reimburse student nurses, it is the very least they can do.”
Full text of letter
We’re writing to you to highlight the financial difficulties that many nursing, midwifery and paramedic students find themselves in. Instead of having their final term of teaching, they are on the frontline, working to save lives in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic. In spite of their work, they are still paying tuition fees for a course cut short by Covid-19.
Until 2016-17, students studying a nursing degree received a bursary worth up to £16,454 a year, but this bursary was scrapped in 2015. This means that the current cohort of final year nurses received no financial support. Whilst we support the restoration of nurses’ bursaries announced last year, this will not help the current cohort who are currently working in our hospitals across the country.
Given the financial hardship final year nurses have faced, and the commitment they have shown to serving the NHS during this pandemic, we ask that the Government directly reimburse student nurses for their final term of tuition fees. We do not believe this should fall to the universities, given that they are already under significant financial strain. However, it is not reasonable that nurses should be paying for tuition fees whilst they are instead working on the frontline.
Sarah Olney, Member of Parliament for Richmond Park
Munira Wilson, Member of Parliament for Twickenham
Layla Moran, Member of Parliament for Oxford West and Abingdon