Closed petition Ensure student nurses are paid for placement hours
The Government should require that student nurses be paid while on placement as part of their training. This should be at least the minimum wage for apprentices.
Student nurses normally work 37.5 hours a week when on placement. For many, this leaves no time to make any money from work, which can make it unaffordable for many people to undertake a nursing degree. Student nurses complete 2,300 hours of placement and contribute hugely to nursing teams across our national health services. Despite this, we are still regarded as supernumerary.
This petition is closed All petitions run for 6 months
This response was given on 1 August 2022
The Government greatly values the contribution of student nurses. There are currently no plans to pay students while on their undergraduate nursing degree course’s mandatory clinical placement.
The Government acknowledges and appreciates the unique characteristics of nursing courses and greatly values student nurses’ contributions to our NHS.
We understand the financial pressures nursing students may face when undertaking a nursing degree. To help alleviate these pressures and help students focus on their studies, since September 2020, all eligible new and continuing pre-registration nursing students studying at English universities have benefitted from a non-repayable training grant of at least £5,000 per academic year. Additional funding is also available for studying certain courses, for example, Mental Health Nursing and Learning Disabilities Nursing. There is further financial support available to students for childcare, dual accommodation costs and travel. This support package is in addition to maintenance and tuition fee loans provided by the Student Loans Company.
We fully acknowledge the huge contribution that student nurses make to nursing teams while on placement. Students on clinical placements are treated as ‘supernumerary’ so that there are protections in place to ensure that, while student nurses are in training, they are not replacing trained professionals required for safe and effective care. These placement protections are also necessary to allow student nurses to acquire the skills and experience required to graduate and join the professional register. To safely and effectively practise as a registered nurse once qualified, it is essential that most practice learning is undertaken in direct care of clients, within a framework of supervision by registered nurses, midwives and other registered healthcare professionals. Nursing degree education standards, including standards for supernumerary practice learning, are set by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to ensure students are prepared for their role as a registered nurse. As part of the response to Covid-19, the NMC made emergency changes to its education standards to support course progression. The Government has always been clear that this was a temporary arrangement and that, at the appropriate time, non-paid placements would resume.
The Registered Nursing Degree apprenticeship route differs from the undergraduate nursing degree; an apprenticeship is a job, in which the apprentice is employed by, and therefore paid by, the trust. In addition to their studies, they provide services to their employer as a Healthcare Support Worker, Nursing Associate, or other role. Apprentices must achieve the same standards as student nurses but given the unique combination of paid employment and study, this is achieved over a four-, rather than three-year, period.
The Government currently has no plans to pay student nurses while on placement. However, the Government keeps the funding arrangements for all NHS health professionals’ education under close review. At all times the Government must make difficult decisions which balance the need to support students in their studies with the need to deliver maximum value for money on taxpayer investment.
Department of Health and Social Care