STUDENT nurses demanded action to defend their bursaries at a Unison student nursing summit held at the union’s headquarters in Euston, central London, yesterday.
Sophia Koumi, a King’s College London Students Union vice president, who was involved in organising the Bursary or Bust campaign and march this month, spoke to News Line, saying: ‘I trained as a mental health nurse. I couldn’t have done my degree without the bursary, I was a mature student. It was my second degree as well.
‘I feel incredibly angry at the government’s decision to remove the bursary and replace it with loans. I was one of a group of students from King’s who’ve been organising the Bursary or Bust campaign.
‘We have joined up with the junior doctors. They supported our demonstration on January 9th and we are going to support them when they walk out on February 10th. The BMA should not have suspended the January 26th/27th strike.
‘All NHS workers need to stick together. What happens to student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals affects everyone and affects the NHS. We need an action for everyone as a whole. We need to bring doctors, nurses and allied health professionals together and have it as a fight for the NHS. That’s what it is all about at the end of the day.’
Student dietician Aysha Mahmood, studying at Birmingham City University, told News Line: ‘The NHS is short of staff already. By imposing these cuts the government is not really encouraging good nurses and doctors to go into that field. There has to be action to defend the bursaries.’
Fellow student nurse Maria McCabe, who is studying in Brighton, Sussex, said: ‘The majority of people in my cohort are mums who are struggling as it is. The bursary is not a lot of money anyway, but without the support of the bursary many would not even consider coming into the profession.
‘The unions should take action. I’d support a general strike to defend the NHS.
‘I do believe in the NHS, that’s why I came into nursing in the first place. The BMA suspension of the junior doctors 48-hour strike next week is shocking, they should back their members all the way.’ Aysha added: ‘Everybody should join with the junior doctors to show support.’