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Nurses "struggle to cope with debt"

Nursing students "saddled with debt" have been forced to take second jobs, a new report says.

The Royal College of Nursing survey shows half of nursing students are working more than 10 hours a week in a second job to make ends meet.

The results also show that half of the 4,500 students questioned have considered quitting their studies altogether, usually for financial reasons.

General secretary Dr Peter Carter said: "It's clear that nursing students are struggling to keep their heads above water because they're saddled with debt and the support on offer is far from ideal.

"We all want a first-class health service and nurses are absolutely integral to achieving this, but the government needs to realise that the inadequate bursary system is a factor in people dropping out of courses."

Dr Carter added that it is nurses who will hold the health service together in the future, yet they do not get the necessary support to qualify.

He believes that with a liveable non-means tested bursary of £12,000, nurses will be able to cover living costs and complete their studies.

Copyright © Press Association 2008

Royal College of Nursing

What do you think of the survey results?
Your comments:
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"I started nursing 45 years ago on 1 December. I worked a 48-hour week with split shifts for £18 a month and I worked on my day off. Any time off meant loss of pay. I didn't even contemplate taking on debt I knew I could not afford. Low pay cannot be the only reason for high levels of debt." - Joan Gledson, Newcastle

"I think that these results are true. I qualified in 2005 and I had two jobs as well on top of ny nursing studies." - Kelly Bates

"I agree. If this wasn't going to be the case I would have done my training years ago instead of remaining an HCA; but with a family and all that goes with it financially it was impossible." - Angela, Wallasey

"I think the survey results are valid. I am a first-year student who left a very well-paid job before commencing my studies. I realised it was more important to be happy in a job than earn lots of money! I do, however, need to earn at least £350 extra a month in paid work just to get by. I don't mean living a student lifestyle of socialising all the time either, I need this extra money to pay my mortgage and bills. If the bursary was
12k, that would be great. A rise to 9 or 10k would be good too. There are so many people dropping out, and the money that has been used to pay their bursaries for however long is now wasted. I have heard Nursing Cadets employed by the separate trusts are on 10k; why are student nurses paid so much less?  Are we not as important?" - Lois Blackburn, Middlesbrough

"There are university students too struggling with debt and relying on parents' income for support (loan only system of middle bracket income family)." - Esh, Middlesex

"I'm a specialist nurse practitioner with massive debts. I have to work 7.30 am until midnight every day and a night shift on Fridays after working all day. My only day off is Saturday and then I am sleeping. I am sure there are many more people out there like me." - Sue Tomlinson, Sandwell