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Helen Whately wrote a letter in response to fellow Tory MP Tom Pursglove who voiced concerns about financial support for student nurses. She said that the government has “no plans” to backdate a new £5,000 grant for student nurses. But Dr Hilary Jones said her claim could turn people away from studying nursing.
Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Dr Jones said: “The nurses I’ve worked with throughout this so far have been absolutely fantastic.
“Some of them are looking after my elderly mum at the moment.
“They’ve done an absolutely brilliant job.
“Before the pandemic, the NHS was really rocking on its heels because it was underresourced and taken for granted and now it’s got through this immediate crisis.
“It had a huge backlog of cancer cases, heart cases and all sorts of other routine work to catch up on.
“The staff are exhausted, the BMA have published another survey that the staff are so tired and really worried about being able to manage a second spike and all the routine cases.
“And this is the way they treat student nurses who have got a career ahead of them?
“They must be thinking, is this really the career I want to do?”
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.
The health minister wrote in the letter: “The Government has no plans to introduce a scheme that will backdate the offer for students who completed courses in earlier years.
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“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.
“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”.
Ms Whately’s letter has received a huge backlash on social media after being shared thousands of times.
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