I was very lucky to be able to travel down to London this week to Westminster with the RCN #FundOurFuture campaign. It was amazing to see student nurses from all over the country come together to campaign for the government to put in at least £1 billion into funding nursing higher education.
As a student nurse we work for free at placement doing 37.5 hours a week. Often, student nurses have part time jobs to fund for food, rent, and some must pay for their child care too. Nursing degrees are longer than normal degrees, and we deserve recognition for the hard work that we put in. Nursing students are on their courses to learn. But, because of the current shortages, they’re being used to fill workforce gaps and caring for patients before they are qualified to.
Now in England there are 42,000 nursing vacancies and this is estimated to be increased to 48,000 within the next 5 years. Unfortunately, there will not be enough qualified burses to be able to take these roles. Due to the nursing bursary being taken away and this being replaced by student loans, there are approximately 1,790 fewer nurses starting university.
How are we mean to promote the nursing career when due to this crisis, nurses are being over-worked, under-paid and burning out faster? How are we meant to sell this career to those who want to become nurses? I know of some nurses that say they would not recommend nursing to their children.
It is all well and good for the government and politicians to say how grateful they are for the nursing staff and what they have done for them, their families and friends, but they are relying on nurses to stay in the career due to their passion for care. If they are so grateful for us, why don’t they treat us like it?
So, let’s get on with how the day went! I haven’t been to London in years, so it was exciting to be in the centre where all the excitement happens! Although it was typical of my luck to finally get to see Big Ben for it to be covered in scaffolding and maintenance works!
Myself and another DMU student managed to speak to the local MP about our opinions on how nursing higher education should be funded and what our experiences have been. It was so nice to have someone take their tie to come and listen to us.
Unfortunately, due to the small numbers of seats in the debate room, only a handful of student were able to go in and witness it first-hand. But I was very privileged to be allowed to go to the RCN headquarters and be invited into the Chief Executive Dame Donna Kinnair’s office to watch it live there!
The Health Minister Stephen Hammond MP has pledged to work with the RCN on its proposals to improve funding for higher nurse education.
He was responding to points raised in a Westminster Hall debate led by Wolverhampton South West MP Eleanor Smith, a nurse by background.
Eleanor has been working closely with the RCN on its Fund Our Future campaign, which calls for £1bn to be invested in student nurse funding. The College wants to see this included in the long-term plan for NHS England, which is expected in early December.
Whilst in London I was able to give my experience and thoughts to be publicized to help future student nurses who may be in the same situation. My views were then published on the RCN Magazine (I shall leave the link below).
Again, I want to thank the RCN and RCN East Midlands for being put forward for this amazing opportunity!