Calls for student nurses to be paid the living wage for the work they do on placements have been made by union members at Unison’s annual healthcare conference.
Trainee nurses and all other healthcare students should be paid this money to stop them from being treated as “free labour” while completing required practical work at trusts, said union members yesterday at the conference in Liverpool.
“Students end up working as bar staff. We really should be ashamed of ourselves”
The introduction of a living wage for students would also reduce the financial burden placed on them by entering training, they added.
Union members noted that healthcare students often worked 37.5 hours on a rotational shift while on placement, which prevented many from taking part-time jobs to help pay for their rent and other maintenance costs.
Members from Unison’s NHS Glasgow Clyde and CVS branch, which moved the motion, said students often saw their debts escalating to a high level as a result.
Elizabeth Rankin, a member of the branch, also said the bursaries offered to students for living costs were too low.
She said the £6,578 annual non-means tested bursary given to students in Scotland was not enough to survive on, adding that students in England and Wales were even worse off because they only received a £1,000 non means-tested bursary.
Ms Rankin said this forced some students into taking on paid jobs, adding: “They [students] end up working as bar staff, and by working 15,25 or 35 hours a week on top….We really should be ashamed of ourselves.”
Conference delegates passed the motion to launch a campaign for a living wage for students on placement and also supported calls for a living bursary to be paid for students as an interim measure.