Nurses V other emergency services

Mike1 Member Posts: 1,732

This is nothing to do with arthritis really but the wider topic of those wonderful people who look after us. Following a report on the news a couple of weeks ago I have been doing some digging and stirring. I sent the following to my MP initially on 24th June:

Dear Derek

I was appalled to hear on the news yesterday morning that not only does Helen Whately - the so-called Care Minister - have a derogatory view of Student Nurses who have gone into hospitals to help with the pandemic but they also have to pay for their training and run up tremendous debts in the process.


A quick bit of Googling reveals the following:

Trainee Police          average basic starting salary of £24,177, depending on their force

Trainee Fire        £22,459

Trainee Soldier         £15,671

Apprentice Ambulance Technician £17,598

Once qualified nurses earn £23,000 a year but have debts around £60,000 to re-pay which can seriously affect their futures.

From the above it would appear that the Government holds Ambulance Technicians in higher regard than nurses!

I seriously consider that nurses should be brought in line with the other emergency services by not only not charging them for their courses but to pay them a salary whilst doing so. Given the huge public increase in recognising the importance and value of professional, committed nurses putting their lives on the line during the current pandemic I consider that this would welcomed by the whole population and be a historic step for the Government. This would also encourage hundreds, if not thousands, of people who would wish to become nurses but have been put off by the financial implications of doing so.


Mike Waters

I had this reply today:

Dear Mike

I’ve not forgotten your enquiry re nurses training costs compared to others in frontline service. I’m looking for ways to bring this greater attention.

Can I say I am of the view that we can keep Covid-19 at bay but I do fully accept your nervousness and caution. Can you please make contact if you find you can not get what you need. In a crisis people will make things happen but as things settle we soon move on.

Kind regards 

Derek Thomas MP

For West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (St Ives)

Since sending the email to the MP I have also contacted the BBC and ITV with the request that they take it up but have heard nothing. I also sent it to the Nurses Union suggesting that they start a campaign to negate training costs for nurses as there would be a lot of public support at the moment but again I have had no response.


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,253

    Well done, Mike, for doing something. Too many people just grumble about things and do nothing. Whether or not you will have any success is another matter but you tried.

    Writing entirely off the top of my head, with no proper research, I would guess that the reason for nurses paying for their training is that, unlike the other services you mention, nurses do a degree. (I believe policemen can but don’t have to.)  If they were to get parity with the other services in terms of wages while also getting a free degree that would open up the question of why they should get a free degree and not other healthcare professionals (physios, occy therapists, podiatrists, doctors even) and, indeed, why shouldn’t all degrees be free.

    I don’t say I think any of this should be the case (though I am immensely grateful that, back in the 60s, I got my tuition free and, because my Dad was on a pension, a grant towards living expenses) but I can see that a can of worms might be opened up.

    Good luck with your MP. Please let’s know any outcome. I’m not here a lot these days but I’ll keep looking in.

    "The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain." Kahlil Gibran
  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,303

    My sister qualified as an SRN back in the 70s, no degree required, no debts incurred, in the days when hospitals were properly staffed. This mess started when they required nurses to do a degree. I really don't see the point, as they were getting perfectly adequate training direct through the hospital.

    As a graduate myself I wholeheartedly support the whole further education experience, whether or not your degree is vocational or leads to better employment. However, peddling "degrees for everyone" from the 1990s onwards, at the cost of saddling graduates with horrendous debts and in a time of rising unemployment has been catastrophic. I was hugely fortunate that as a mature student in the early 80's I was actually paid by the government, via a very small but just about adequate grant (my income reduced from £4k pa when employed to £1,400 pa as a student), which if I was careful and frugal covered all living expenses, books, stationery, equipment etc. Now students are expected to live like someone in full employment, with all the electrical gadgetry and brand labelled clothing, and racking up huge debts, for what?

    If paramedics and firefighters can be paid while training, so should nurses. It would be interesting to know whether a degree in nursing actually gives any benefit in the standard of care on the wards compared to in house training.

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,732

    I have a couple of friends who are nurses, one is in her late 40s and qualified as an SRN when training was free whilst working and studying in the hospital, she says that you can tell the difference. She considers that the "old school" nurses are more hands on whilst the degree nurses are more paperwork orientated. The other friend qualified about this time last year and is shortly to be promoted to Ward Sister!

    Stickywicket raised a good point about other medical professions having to pay for their degree courses, I had not considered that, definitely a sticking point.

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,732

    That is the same sort of thing my friend said Stellabean. Thanks for your nursing career. 🌈

  • Lilymary
    Lilymary Member Posts: 1,303

    I fix buildings, not people, but one thing I've learnt from speaking with clients is that when people are off their guard that's when you learn most. I put people into "natter mode", and sit back and listen. It works wonders. As Stellabean says, I can imagine it works on patients too.

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,732

    I had an email back from the Nurses Union yesterday who had totally misread mine to them, all they said was that they agree that nurses should have a pay rise but they are linked into a 3 year rotational scheme. Needless to say I immediately wrote back to them!

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,253

    I've no idea how that works, Mike, but it sounds a bit legal.

    I had hoped that the idea of nurses taking degree courses might have been because that would ensure them higher wages. I was thinking that, if so, it would be a great idea for care workers to get more status and money. But, from the little I read, the nursing degree came about because nurses were doing far more work in the community rather than just hospitals and needed to have the confidence to be able to take more decisions on the hoof.

    All I know is that I have more reason than most to be grateful to nurses on both sides of the 'degree divide'. I have noticed no difference in care though sometimes a dearth of nursing staff. I love our nurse practitioners. They're brilliant.

    KBO, Mike, as we say in our family.

    "The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain." Kahlil Gibran
  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,732

    Hi Mike

     Apologies for not responding to your email correctly and thanks very much for getting in touch with us to raise this important issue. We agree that there has been a worrying decline in the number of people applying to study nursing in England following changes to funding for nursing student in 2016.

     Following tireless campaigning from student nurses who are active campaigners with the RCN, the government has confirmed that from September 2020, all nursing students in England will receive at least £5,000 a year to help with living costs.

     While this is a positive first step, it’s only the start of what’s needed to address the nursing workforce crisis.

     We’re calling on the government to provide full tuition fee support and maintenance grants which cover the true cost of living for all nursing students in England.

     We will continue to champion this with government on behalf of our current and future student nurses.

     Best wishes


    Claire Connolly | Customer Service Administrators

    [email protected]

    RCN | Royal College of Nursing

    Copse Walk | Cardiff Gate Business Park | Cardiff CF23 8XG

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,732

    Funding of up to £172m for thousands more apprentice nurses in England has been unveiled by the government. The Department of Health and Social Care said the money will allow healthcare employers to take on up to 2,000 nursing degree apprentices every year over the next four years. It said this will help make the career more accessible.

  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,253

    I guess it’s better. Do you think it’s enough?

    "The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain." Kahlil Gibran
  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,732

    Another email from my MP:

    Dear Mike,

     As promised, I’ve done a little research – many apologies that it has taken so long to get back to you.

    You have made a very valid point with regard to trainee nurses - the RCN confirm that it is not unusual for newly-qualified nurses to run up £50-60k of debts over the course of their training.

    This doesn’t seem remotely fair when looking at the situation for new recruits in the other emergency services.

    The RCN have offered me the opportunity to discuss the situation with the senior RCN Nurse for Cornwall and I will certainly raise the issue in Westminster when I return to Parliament next week.

     Kind regards,


    Derek Thomas

    MP for West Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (St Ives)

  • Sharon_K
    Sharon_K Administrator Posts: 320

    Well done Mike this is great news!!


  • stickywicket
    stickywicket Member Posts: 26,253

    Excellent, Mike. I hope you eel you've achieved something. I know I do.

    "The deeper sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain." Kahlil Gibran
  • Airwave!
    Airwave! Member Posts: 2,427

    Having done two of the above jobs you do not do them for the recompense but the satisfaction of doing the job. The lack of pay does affect you and your family and sooner or later the pleasure of being in the job becomes an onus to bear which eventually breaks you down and along with it your willingness to keep going to work.

    Knowing what I do now I do not regret my choice of jobs, they were a part of my soul and life and who I was but I would be less likely to choose them now.

    The answer is not always about amounts of money.

  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,732
    edited 29. Aug 2020, 05:43

    My original thought was not purely about the money but the unfairness that student nurses have to pay for their training and run up huge debts in the process whilst all other trainees in the emergency services and armed forces get paid to train. I appreciate that there are a number of other disciplines in the medical world that also pay for their courses but, especially in the current climate, nurses were at the forefront of my mind.