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RCN urges ‘caution’ over student placement walkout


The Royal College of Nursing has taken the decision to advise its student members to “carefully consider the implications” of taking part in next week’s walkout over plans to end the bursary.

On 10 February students across the UK are planning to walk out of their clinical placements for an hour from 10am to 11am.

The protest, organised by the campaign group Save NHS Bursaries, follows two public demonstrations against the government’s ambition to replace bursaries for student nurses with a system of loans.

The walkout is planned to coincide with the junior doctor’s strike, which is due to take place the same day.

However, the RCN has issued a carefully-worded statement suggesting that it would prefer its student members not to take part in the protest.

It said: “The RCN is aware of members’ anger over proposed cuts to student funding in England and that some are considering walking out over the issue alongside junior doctors next month.

“While the RCN wants to support members in meaningfully campaigning against plans to scrap the bursary, it believes there are other effective ways of influencing decision makers,” it added, saying “political campaigning can be effective”.

For example, the college encouraged members to contact their local MPs and “let them know what abolishing the bursary will mean for nursing students”.

In addition, the college said more than 1,300 students had submitted their stories about financial hardship and reliance on the bursary, which had been made into a book and sent to key politicians.

It also highlighted the petition that resulted in a parliamentary debate earlier this month as well as the two London marches.

For those “considering walking out in protest, even for an hour,” the RCN reminded students they should get prior permission from their manager, mentor or university tutor.

It warned that walking out without consent may jeopardise their current bursary, receipt of which was conditional on students attending their course unless permission to be away has been granted.

Students walking out of placement will “lose important clinical placement hours that are needed to complete their nursing course”, added the RCN.

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to abolish the bursary in England and make nursing students pay tuition fees last November.


Readers' comments (15)

  • RCN are useless-Political Campaigning can be useful that must be why we are so well paid

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  • We need to strike
    Not just Doctors
    Not just Student Nurses

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  • Why is the RCN being so very polite
    It seems to grasp what is happening in the NHS
    Can it be that it is so very distant from real nursing and the state of the NHS
    The RCN is in danger of losing more nurses to other unions as nurses alike myself feel that they are not being represented well

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  • This is an embarrassing response from the RCN! Obviously they are in the pockets of the politician's and getting something out of it, not got students best interests at heart...

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  • They obviously prefer we just sit back in our arm chairs, tut-tuting, sighing and shaking our heads while the Tories fulfil yet another desire of theirs.

    By bringing the NHS to its knees, they will eventually have the public wholeheartedly agreeing that the state can no longer manage the NHS and it requires total privatisation, along with need for American style funding from health insurance e.t.c.

    Its not like they don't make it quite obvious that this is how they like things to go about thing, i mean they sold off so many state assets during their last reign, yet we just keep inviting them back to do a little more damage.

    I'm just as guilty as many and am capable of doing little more than getting annoyed and perhaps at a push, telling people that I'm annoyed by our governments actions, but I'm certainly not surprised by them.

    So a political way to go about this is to write a letter to our MP? Really? Oh that will be worth so much more than the paper its written on.....If students want to display their feelings with an hours protest about these matters then they should. I'm quite sure none will struggle to fulfil their hours due to missing one of them for this action. I mean seriously, what a ridiculous statement.

    Peaceful protest is a fine way to show solidarity and belief in a cause, but I can't remember it ever achieving anything though. Over three quarters of a million people marched in London in 2003 against the proposed invasion of Iraq.

    The only way to stop these people from doing what they please with our Country's assets or armed forces is to not give them the opportunity in the first place!

    Rant over
    Annoyed of Biggleswade.

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  • Hi Steve, in the interest of balance will you amend the article to point out the the NUS and Unite fully support the walkout? Seems a little strange to single out just one union's response for an article.

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  • I will be supporting my students if they plan to walk out and protest - and I will count it as a practice hour as it is an important aspect of learning regarding nursing (and health) politics, which will make them stronger leaders and wiser decision makers. They can learn to tick boxes when they get back on placement...

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  • Anthony Johnson

    I like how the Nursing Times asked the organisers for a quote... anyone?! Anyone?! Yeah it's interesting that we'll be contacted by everyone about it but when it comes to NT no such luck -_-.

    With respects to the RCN, students are supernumerary. They are engaging in advocating for their profession and the future of nursing. How is this not the way we should be conducting ourselves when we're supernumerary? We should not be threatened for not being there.

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  • Its time the RCN actually supported its members more robustly, including the student nurses. What is a walkout if not 'political campaigning'? Both George Osborne and Jeremy Hunt have clearly shown that they are not interested in hearing the views of the individuals they are affecting, and bulldoze their way through the future (or non-future) of the NHS at an alarming speed. As a senior nurse I would fully support a student wanting to take part in this peaceful protest, and so should anyone else wishing to protect the future generations of nurses in this country.

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  • The RCN stand up and fully back the people that fund its existence yet again........not!!!!
    I genuinely believe that the RCN are in cahoots with this government. Be a union RCN and back your members you "Lilly Livered" cowards!

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