Student nurses march to oppose bursary cut

Mark Best

Over 1,000 student nurses, NHS workers and members of the public marched through central London to protest the government’s plans to cut student nurses’ bursaries.

With chants of “bursary or bust” and “1,2,3,4 we won’t be the working poor” the protest was a lively show of just how vital the bursary is to students and nurses to train the next generation. In speeches the student organisers made calls to fight back against the Tories’ plans to destroy the NHS in its current form.

This fight needs to be united and positive steps were made linking the student nurses’ struggle to the junior doctors who are engaging in ongoing strike action. The call was made for student nurses to walk out in solidarity with the junior doctors whenever they strike. Speakers included Unite general secretary Len McCluskey, RCN general secretary Janet Davies and the BMA junior doctors organiser.

The following is an extract of a statement sent to the demonstration by Unison NEC members Jacqui Berry, a nurse, and Hugo Pierre, a local government worker, who could not attend.

“We offer our full support to student nurses and other health professionals for your justified fight to defend your student bursary from abolition by this government that knows only one value. The value of the pound.

“It’s clear they don’t value nurses – students or qualified nurses. But when our hospitals have to pay the price for nursing shortages by recruiting and employing agency staff at way over the odds, they don’t have to pay.

“Your bursaries are the pay that you get for working to gain the experience that will save lives.

“As socialists on the Unison NEC, we will do all we can to support you in this battle to defend your bursaries. You can count on our support for any action you want our union to take to help you beat this government and join your struggle with the struggles of other health workers to defend their pay and conditions.”