Hi, Welcome!

The community is a safe space for people living with and connected to arthritis to ask questions and share experiences. Get started by registering here and posting your first comment or question!

Sign In with a Versus Arthritis account

However your life is impacted by arthritis we want to understand more about you so that we can make sure we continue to develop our information, support and services such as the online community.

If you've not already, please take 5 -10 minutes to fill in our survey. All information you provide will remain anonymous and be treated in the strictest confidence. TAKE OUR SURVEY

Nurses V other emergency services

Mike1Mike1 Posts: 606 ✭✭✭

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.


  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,886

    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.

    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • LilymaryLilymary Posts: 264 ✭✭✭

    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.

  • Mike1Mike1 Posts: 606 ✭✭✭

    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.

  • I am a qualified SRN RM my training was undertaken at the hospital in the school of nursing we worked full time on the wards spent a couple of weeks each term in school as well as doing course work through out the rest of the time. We had both exams and practical assessments and a report from the ward sister or your mentor. The first degree students I worked with made me laugh as on their first day on a ward one told me " I am not here to make beds I am going to be a staff nurse" my reply was " I am a staff nurse and midwife if I am making a bed then so are you. It is a good time to chat to your patient, sometimes they are more likely to bring up things that are worrying them than when they think you are too busy to talk". She helped in a bad grace then asked to work with someone else but she was out of luck I was her mentor. We eventually got along, I was always told never expect someone else to do something you will not do yourself ( that was by my aunt who as a night divisional nursing officer rolled up her sleeves when wards were busy). I sometimes think having their heads in paperwork isn't such a good thing they can miss so much going on the wards.

  • Mike1Mike1 Posts: 606 ✭✭✭

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

  • LilymaryLilymary Posts: 264 ✭✭✭

    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.

Sign In or Register to comment.