Student nurses, midwives and other NHS professional welcomed UNISON’s support at marches and rallies in support of the NHS bursary in London, Newcastle and Manchester at the weekend.
NHS students and their supporters, including UNISON members, marched from London’s St Thomas’s Hospital to Parliament on Saturday, ahead of this afternoon’s Westminster Hall debate on plans to abolish the bursary in England and replace it with student loans.
At the same time, union organised rallies took place in Manchester and Newcastle.
The government plans, part of the Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn spending review, will see nurses and other health professional graduate with a debt of at least £51,600.
They will pay the entire bill for their training, even though nurses spend 50% of their training time working for the NHS on clinical placements, and their starting salary is £22,799.
As well as nurses, the change will hit thousands of student midwives, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, podiatrists, radiographers, dieticians, operating department practitioners and possibly paramedics.
UNISON will host a student nursing summit to discuss the campaign to defend the NHS bursary and how to take it forward, at the UNISON Centre in London on 20 January.