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'We're all struggling' says campaigner who started a petition to pay student nurses a minimum wage

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Nursing students currently have to do seven placements totalling 2,300 hours of unpaid work.

This is equivalent to 60 unpaid weeks, over the 3-year course. The petition claims that since scrapping of NHS bursaries, nursing students have been forced to take up part-time work on top of a 37.5-hour-a-week placement just to make ends meet.

The petition is addressed to the Prime Minister, the Minister of State for Universities, and Matt Hancock MP, the new Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.

Speaking exclusively with TNS, John Worth told us that so far ‘I haven’t had much of a response yet from the people’ who can make the demands of his petition a reality, but that he’s optimistic about the success of the petition, as ‘with the support growing, the chance of the petition succeeding is growing too!’

Worth said he started the petition partly because of his experience on his own placement.

"I’m not afraid of hard work but working 37.5 hours a week on placement unpaid means I’m having to work as much as I can the rest of the week to get money for bills, food and travel – this can be anything between 20-40 hours’ extra work on top of the 37.5-hour placement.”

“This isn’t just myself struggling either, myself and my fellow student nurses were having a conversation on Facebook messenger about how we were all struggling, which is why I then said I would start the petition.”

Worth says he is “very proud” and “shocked” at the overwhelming popularity of the petition this far – “It’s swept me off my feet."

The student nurse is just coming to the end of his placement and says he’ll now have more time to start thinking about how to progress the campaign. He encourages everyone to sign and share the petition and also details what else people can do.

“I have been asking people who have signed to write a letter to their local MP to get some on board. I had success with my local MP, who is Kerry McCarthy, who agrees there should be some sort of wage whilst on placement and she supported me by sharing my petition.”

Speaking about potential obstacles, John Worth says that the NHS funding “has always been a thought in the back of my mind when thinking about whether this petition will be a success or not”, but he argues that “we student nurses are the future of the NHS so I believe we should be invested in."

He also highlighted a link between nurse training, pay, and the NHS staff shortages recently highlighted by NHS officials.

“I know some other students who have been counted on the ward due to staff shortages. I haven’t witnessed anybody dropping out myself however we only started in February and people have been talking about dropping out. I believe next year people will have dropped out. I think if there was some sort of wage whilst on placement this would encourage students to stay.”

John urges everyone to sign the petition, share it on social media and spread the word. Within three weeks, the petition has gained nearly 300,000 signatures.

However, another petition which ran for 6 months from December 2017 to April 2018 received a response from the government. The demands were similar to those of Worth's petition. 

The government rejected the appeal stating that students are not contracted to provide nursing care.

The NMC state that Student nurses undertaking practice learning are supernumerary. Students may perform limited clinical duties as part of training but they are not contracted to provide nursing care. 

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