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Cash-strapped students do extra work and use food banks survey finds



Two thirds of student nurses are taking on extra work to supplement their income and some of them are using food banks to make ends meet, according to a survey by the public service union Unison.

Two thirds of student nurses are taking on extra  work to supplement their income and some of them are using food banks to make ends meet, according to a survey by the public service union Unison.

Financial pressures meant 66 per cent of student nurses, midwives and allied healthcare professionals needed to work by their third year.

The number of students fitting work around their study soared from six in ten in 2006 to two thirds in 2016.

Nearly all the students ( 86 per cent  said they were in the red and a fifth of them said they owed between £5,001 and £10,000.

Nearly a fifth of students said they took out payday loans to make ends meet.

One in ten said they used food banks to feed themselves or their families.

Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea said: “There appears to be no end to the misery heaped upon healthcare students by a government that seems to driven by cutting costs.

This report shows many healthcare workers are already suffering with debt and working excess hours just to  keep their heads above water.”

The Unison survey was completed by 726 students between September 2015 and June 2016. 

Nearly half of them said they have thought about leaving their course because of money pressures.

However fewer than one in five on secondment said financial pressures would make them leave.

Nearly two thirds of students said they thought taking on paid  work affected their studies.

Just over a quarter of them worked up to ten hours weekly, with one in seven working for 21 hours or more.

Most of them worked as healthcare assistants and some did bar or club work or office jobs.

Ms McAnea said: “Students want a salary that reflects their unpaid work on wards and which stops them worrying about running up huge debts or taking on other jobs that will prevent them rom concentrating on their studies. They they won’t have to work excessive hours or revert to relying on food banks to eat.”

The survey comes as students are lobbying their MPs about plans to scrap nursing bursaries.

The nursing unions and Unison said it means  students  graduating in 2020 face debts of £52,000.

The shortage of nurses meant that students were less worried about finding a job. Just seven per cent said it concerned them, compared with 41 per cent surveyed by Unison in 2007.