Government urged to cancel student nurse debt for COVID-19 assistance

Second and third year student nurses have signed up to help to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clare Bodell
10 April 2020
Student nurses learning CPR

Over 5,500 students from 35 universities have signed up a six-month placement to assist front-line workers.

Over 80 MPs have signed a letter calling on the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to drop student debt for nurses as they help to treat patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Health Education England (HEE) announced that 5,553 students from 35 universities had been signed up a six month paid placement to assist front-line workers. 

Sarah Owen, the Labour MP for Luton North, addressed the letter to Matt Hancock and wrote that cancelling the debt would be an “important signal” to those starting their career that they are valued.

“Over the last few weeks, we have seen the whole country united in our gratitude to those working night and day to keep our NHS going and look after our loved ones at this difficult time,” the letter states.

“If this coronavirus pandemic has proved anything, it is just how much we owe to those in the health service who are there for us when we need them most.”

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This is “testament to the hard work and sense of duty” that those NHS staff feel, states the letter, “especially during these unprecedented times”.

“Therefore, we are calling on the government to support these new nurses by cancelling the student debt they have incurred throughout their studies,” the letter states.

“In future it would be a real sign of permanent change from the Government if we could see that every nurse left their training and education without any debt but right now, student nurses are risking their own health to help care for people during the crisis in really difficult circumstances, managing unprecedented demand and often without the correct protective equipment.

“Cancelling this debt, as a first step, for this group of hardworking nurses would be an important signal to those starting their careers during the crisis that they are valued, not just by the public and their patients, but by their government as well.”

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