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‘I cried until I couldn’t cry any more’ - student nurses head to Westminster in funding fight

PUBLISHED: 09:31 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:10 21 November 2018

A member of nursing staff dispensing drugs from a trolley on a ward. Picture: David Jones/PA Wire

A member of nursing staff dispensing drugs from a trolley on a ward. Picture: David Jones/PA Wire

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Student nurses from East Anglia will meet members of parliament at Westminster today ahead of a debate which will discuss the future of nurse education funding.

A nurse putting on gloves in a hospital. Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA WireA nurse putting on gloves in a hospital. Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

The debate was called by Wolverhampton South West MP Eleanor Smith, after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) called for £1bn a year to be put back into higher education funding from Government’s £20bn NHS promise as part of NHS Ten Year Plan.

Since the living support bursary for nursing students was scrapped in 2016, applications to study nursing have fallen 33 per cent, while the number of students accepted onto courses has dropped 8 per cent.

Helen Maw, RCN eastern senior officer, said: “Without the right financial support in place there is a serious risk more students will be forced to drop out of training and we lose this vital resource patients need.

“In the East of England we are aware of students going to extreme lengths to keep their heads above water as they juggle intense training with the financial struggles of day to day life.

Picture: Ian BurtPicture: Ian Burt

“We must see action now to provide them with the support they need.”

Patient care is already threatened by extreme nursing shortages across the health and social care system, such as the plans at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King’s Lynn.

The hospital’s cancer surgery is proposed to be moved to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) because of low staffing levels.

A student nurse, who did not wish to be named, said: “My mental health was damaged in the first year of university, I was under so much pressure I went numb.

“I cried until I couldn’t cry any more. The people who make these decisions have no idea what it’s like, they teach us to have so much empathy for our patients yet they don’t have any for us.”

Student nurses spend a thousand more hours on their courses compared to the average student, they have 2,300 hours of academic study and are required to complete an extra 2,300 hours worth of clinical placements.

The nurse continued: “I know I will run out of money by December and will have to rely on my student overdraft. I estimate that I’ll be £60,000 in debt at the end of my course, with interest constantly being added.”

The debate will be held today at Westminster Hall.

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