Michaela Masters and Karl Lewis, both from Blackpool and second year student nurses at UCLaN, were joined by Katie Nellist, studying in her second year at the University of Chester. All three formed part of the Royal College of Nursing’s (RCN) England–wide delegation on Wednesday 21 November.
There are already almost 42,000 nursing vacancies in England alone. Without action now this could rise to at least 48,000 in the next five years, because there won’t be enough newly qualified nurses to address this shortfall says the new campaign launched by the Royal College of Nursing this month.
The RCN’s Fund Our Future campaign, aims to raise awareness of the pressures and financial difficulties many nursing students face.
The campaign calls for the Government to put at least £1bn a year back into nursing higher education in England. This would help support students who are struggling to make ends meet and boost the number of people entering nurse training.
The students had the opportunity to speak directly with MPs, and tell their stories, and sat in the debate in Westminster Hall that followed. The debate, led by Labour MP Eleanor Smith, who is a nurse by background, focussed on investing in nursing higher education in England.
At the event, Health Minister Stephen Hammond MP pledged to work with the RCN on its proposals to improve funding for higher nurse education.
He committed to consulting on the detailed proposals the RCN has put forward on the future funding of nursing higher education and said he would work with the College to take the proposals forward.
Michaela Masters, second year student at UCLan, studying adult nursing, said:
“More money needs to go into supporting students as it’s impossible to manage to study, do placements and work on the current levels available.
“I have two young children and when I’m on placement, I work 37.5 hours a week, and because of my parental responsibilities, I can’t take on extra work, which many student nurses do just to make ends meet. When we’re on placement, many employers count us in to the headcount, but we’re not being paid. Something has to change, because it’s just not working.”
Karl Lewis, again a second year student at UCLan, studying adult nursing, said:
“The event at Westminster was really positive and the MPs and ministers who we met now know how much student nurses are struggling.
“There are so many expectations on student nurses and I think change really needs to happen now, for the benefit of the NHS. Ideally, student nurses need financial support that’s not counted as income. It was a great day and very insightful for me. Hopefully the pledge is the starting ground, so we can continue to help shape the nursing future.”