70% of medical students can’t afford necessities!

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SEVEN out of 10 medical students cannot afford basic necessities, finds a BMA survey.

An annual BMA poll found over two-thirds (70%) of 639 surveyed students have no choice but to go without essentials, such as heating and food, to be able to cope financially.

The BMA said the findings are ‘not necessarily surprising as just under half of respondents said that they anticipate running out of money before the end of the year, up from 40% in the last survey’.  The survey also revealed the average total debt for students amounts to £43,700, of which £38,406 relates to the student loan.

This compares to an overall debt of £28,884 in Scotland, where students are not subject to tuition fees. Since 2012/13, tuition fees have significantly increased, jumping from £3,290 to £9,250.

In its previous survey, conducted in 2013 and looking specifically at first year medical students, the BMA reported the mean average debt for medical students amounted to £16,167.

The BMA said: ‘The financial burden of studying medicine is too much for some respondents and 5.5% were considering leaving their course. ‘Worryingly, more than two-thirds of respondents said they are cutting down on essentials such as heating, food or professional clothes to economise. ‘Relatedly, the rate of applications for hardship funding following consultations with student support services has risen since the last survey.’

Meanwhile, members of the RCN in Jersey will be balloted on taking strike action over the States pay offer. A formal application to the Royal College of Nursing has been successful. For the first time, the RCN union board has authorised a strike ballot.

When Jersey members vote to walk out, it will also be the first time RCN union members have gone on strike anywhere.

The Jersey branch of the union says the ballot will take place unless mediation with the States urgently leads to a better pay offer. Lindsay Meeks, Regional Director of RCN South East commented that ‘This historic decision has come after years of poor pay and a desultory offer from the States’ Government.

‘It reflects the strength of feeling among our members, after years of unequal pay which is driving people away from the island, and ultimately risks safe patient care as nurse numbers dwindle.

‘But first and foremost, nurses’ responsibility is to their patients and should the strike go ahead, members will take every precaution to ensure treatment and care remain safe. ‘We hope it doesn’t come to a walk-out, but the States should be in no doubt our members will not be ignored again.’