Equalise funding between Student Nurses and Nursing Associates

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When you think of studying a nursing degree, what do you think is one of the most difficult aspects of it? The curriculum? The exams and assignments? The long days of lectures? The heavy and upsetting content? The stress of studying whilst working and training full time?

When I, as a Student Nurse, think of the most challenging facet of this course, it is in fact the lack of financial support. Not just the self-funding tuition loan either, but the absent bursary that aided us with day-to-day living costs and the 12.5 hour unpaid placement shifts that includes weekends and nights.

As from August 2017, Student Nurses in all fields of practice now pay £9,250 in university tuition fees each year for 3 years to train as Nurse. The NHS Bursary that was designed as a financial support for student nurses was also scrapped at this time, meaning that student nurses pay more in maintenance loan, on top of the tuition fees and unpaid placements. In December 2015, the government announced plans to introduce a Nursing Associate role which after two years of paid training with no tuition fees, qualify as a Band 4. On top of this, a Nursing Associate receives academic support from our lecturers, additional skill training such as cannulation, venepuncture, injections, administering medication, dressings, and even administering IV’s. Here is the official list: https://www.nmc.org.uk/globalassets/sitedocuments/standards/draft-nursing-associate-skills-annexe.pdf
They even are provided with an NMC pin. This makes it difficult to distinguish the difference between a Band 5 Nurse and a Band 4 Nursing Associate, considering the fact that qualified Band 5 Nurses have more responsibility, despite giving the same level of skilled care. Furthermore, after the two year Nursing Associate course, Nursing Associates are now able to do a 1 year top up to become a fully registered Band 5 Nurse! As well as this, Assistant Practitioners which also sit at the same level at Band 4 now feel undermined and worried for their future career prospects as they have finally gained the professional status they worked for, now not knowing where they stand due to the role of the Nursing Associate.

So, instead of employing more Band 5 nurses into the NHS, the government are spending more money on training Nursing Associates that are fully funded, and unfairly, current student nurses are paying £27,750 tuition to train. This needs to change. Why should Student Nurses have to pay to train, yet Nursing Associates get paid between £19,000-£21,000 to train. Understanding the need for attention to patient care, the Nursing Associate is appreciated alongside the Registered Band 5 Nurse, allowing a safer clinical environment for staff and patients, however we need fairness amongst these roles. In essence, Student Nurses need better financial support, to not only help with everyday living costs, but for childcare, travel and study essentials such as books and study materials. This is not only for ourselves as current students, but for future Student Nurses also. Please sign to support this matter.

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