Student nurses ‘not deemed to be providing a service’, says MP

Around 25,000 student nurses opted in to assist the NHS during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sarah Jane
21 June 2020
Helen Whately

Student nurses feel understandably short-changed by a lack of financial aid.

A Conservative MP has claimed that the government has “no plans” to backdate a new £5,000 grant for student nurses as they “are not deemed to be providing a service”.

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Helen Whately, the Conservative MP for Faversham and Care Minister at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) makes the bold claim while responding to a letter from Tom Pursglove MP calling for additional financial support for student nurses.

The government scrapped the NHS Bursary system for student nurses and midwives in 2015 which subsequently led to a significant drop in the number of applicants.

Later this year the government will introduce the NHS Learning Support Fund which will provide non-repayable grants of up to £8,000 per year for both new and current student healthcare professionals.

Those who completed their course between this period feel understandably short-changed by a lack of financial aid – relying solely on student loans.

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Limited clinical duties.

The letter which has been shared thousands of times across social media was written after student nurse Jess Collins called upon her local MP to help.

Ms. Whately writes; “The Government has no plans to introduce a scheme that will backdate the offer for students who completed courses in earlier years.

“Student nurses in training are supernumerary and are not deemed to be providing a service. They are required to undertake 2,300 hours of clinical practice to learn the skills necessary for entry to the workforce.

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“Whilst they may be performing limited clinical duties, this is under close supervision and they are not being paid to staff hospitals.”

She does, however, praise NHS staff for “always putting patients first and keeping them safe while providing excellent care”.

COVID-19.

In April around 25,000 student nurses and midwives opted in to assist on the NHS front-line during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of unprecedented measures to ensure the health service was not overwhelmed.

Ms. Whatley goes on to incorrectly claim that those assisting with the COVID-19 pandemic were required to join an “emergency register” and would be paid a six-month clinical placement.

After just three months, the majority of student nurses were told earlier this week that this six month placement would be cut short – instead of ending on 31 July.

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Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has condemned the comments. He said; “What an insult to hard-working student nurses many of whom gave up paid work to be on the frontline answering the call of duty at this time national COVID emergency.

“We should doing all we to support student nurses. Another reason why minister should follows Labour’s policy of restating a bursary.’

Heroic work.

Following publication, the Department of Health and Social care have asked NursingNotes to include the following statement.

Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “The whole country is grateful to student nurses for their heroic work on the NHS frontline during this unprecedented global pandemic.

“Supernumerary status for student nurses is a technical definition created to ensure they have the space and time to learn, and it is widely supported across the nursing profession.

“There is a strong financial aid package for nurses and going forwards we have introduced even further support for nursing, midwifery and many allied health profession students consisting of a £5,000 to £8,000 grant to help with maintenance and associated study costs, which does not need to be paid back.”

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