'Students deserve an apology for bursary mess'
Nurses are getting pretty used to being paid less and less in real terms. And now it seems this is becoming part of student training too.
As reporter Shaun Lintern reveals on page 2, 35,000 students in England did not receive their bursaries on time, and many slipped into debt. Many may not receive it until the end of the year.
That is a pretty huge number of students unable to buy books, feed themselves or look after their families. To add insult to injury, many have had to spend huge amounts phoning the 0845 number to contact NHS Student Bursaries.
This is how they are being prepared for the world of work.
NHS Student Bursaries claims that the fault lay with students not applying properly, which students dispute. After all, 35,000 of them can’t all have made the same mistake can they?
Although nothing can take away the hardship of having no money to live on, a simple apology may have made this bitter pill slightly easier to swallow for the thousands of students affected.
This is not the way to welcome students to the nursing profession. This is not the way to ensure students feel respected, valued and treasured
We’ve all seen how large corporate businesses can charm their customers with an elegant apology. Marks and Spencer did just that with its “We’ve boobed” campaign after it added surcharges to larger bra sizes, and Howard Stringer’s handling of the Sony PlayStation hacking incident smartly offered perks to its customers.
Students don’t have a choice about who gives them their bursary, and so NHS Student Bursaries doesn’t have to fight to attract their business. But that’s not a good enough reason to take students for granted. Don’t they still deserve some level of customer service? They still deserve answers.
An apology and a pledge to commit to a process that can guarantee this fiasco will not happen again would go some way to allaying students’ fears and make them feel that their voices had been heard and acted upon.
This is not the way to welcome students to the nursing profession. This is not the way to ensure students feel respected, valued and treasured. Instead it is a surefire way to make them feel angry, upset, frustrated and taken for granted.
This week’s Frontline First figures about cuts to posts from the RCN (page 3) and our news story on burnout (page 3) reveal more of those emotions lay in wait in their later careers. But what a shame we can’t start off their time as a nurse with less cynicism and more respect for their chosen job? Surely, the NHS should be leading by example to get the best out of our next generation of nurses.
Jenni Middleton, editor
firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter @nursingtimesed