Overworked and underpaid: Nurses at breaking point

Many of our most vital university students have been left feeling frustrated and unsupported by the government’s decision to scrap bursaries and replace them with student loans.

Under the new system that kicks in this September, nursing and midwifery students will be treated like most other undergraduates in England. They will have to pay tuition fees of up to £9,000 per year which will begin to be repaid once they start earning more than £21,000, just under their average salary. A majority of students feel this is grossly unfair treatment, given the pressures they are already put under by the NHS.

Victoria Clarke, a 2nd year nursing student, feels the decision could have serious implications for the current nursing crisis in England.

While these students may be being treated as normal undergraduates, they are, however, anything but. Student nurses are asked to complete almost a year’s worth of full-time work placements in a range of locations throughout the duration of their course and are often required to work 12 hour shifts and some weekends.

Students are expected to complete a year’s worth of full-time nursing work as part of their three-year degree.

Most nursing students are over the age of 19 and many turn to a nursing career with the burden of previous degree debts already on their shoulders; these reforms could act as a huge deterrent for the thousands of mature students looking to enter the profession.

Nurses learn a large quantity of their skills through simulation sessions with mannequins.

There are those within the NHS and education sector however, who believe such reforms were necessary and will be beneficial in the long run. Jessica Mills, Senior Lecturer in the School of Health Sciences at the University of Brighton, says her course has not been negatively affected, despite a reported 23% drop in applications nationwide.

A table showing the lack of student nursing places compared to applications in England up to 2016 (UCAS).

Leave a Comment