• Jess, 26, from Peterborough, a single parent with two children, Charlie 7, and Elsie 4, talks Exclusively to Andrew Atkinson about the TRUTH of being an NHS student nurse.
  1. Quote: “I’ll continue working for free. One of thousands of health professionals working at the bottom of the NHS hierarchy – buckling under pressures”.
  2. Quote: “The tears I’ve cried could fill Loch Ness. I’m swimming – I won’t give up – I’m crying out for help.”
  3. Quote: “We’re pretty much screwed – mentally and financially. Forgotten, after giving so much.”

BEING a student nurse with the NHS is no easy task – especially so when you are a single parent with two young children.

Promises to help those working hard, to help boost low morale, don’t ring true with Jess.

“I’m smiling on the outside for sure, we have to as student nurses, we’re pros at it,” Jess told The Leader.

“But inside I’m struggling to keep my cool. I am in fact, pretty bloody furious,” said Jess, taking deep breaths, in an attempt to keep calm.

“I am an exhausted, physically and emotionally drained student Paediatric nurse – desperate for just a little recognition for the work and effort I put into our NHS week in, week out,” said Jess.

“When I began the course in September 2017,  I was one of the first cohorts to miss out on the NHS Bursaries – and Course fee exemption.

“I was already on the backfoot. However, I wanted to do it. I desperately wanted to make a difference. I applied in the hope, that perhaps when it all fell apart and uptake started to fall, the situation may be rectified.

“I don’t expect or feel entitled to the extra help, simply because I’m a student nurse. I do however, expect a certain level of fairness.

“There is absolutely no just and fair excuse you could give me, that could justify my own reality as a student nurse.

“I’m probably one of a few thousand student nurses, caught in the middle of a huge Government ‘cock up’, who have lost out traumatically.

“Im going to leave University with a Degree that I’m proud of. But I’m also going to leave with over £50,000 worth of debt.

“This, despite working 37.5 to 40 hour weeks, in hospitals and medical centres throughout placements.

“I’m going to leave an exhausted, utterly drained and completely different person – to the one that walked through those doors just over two years ago.

“Sometimes I think this course is quite frankly going to break me. The tears I’ve cried could fill Loch Ness.

“Why do I continue to do it? I have a love, and genuine passion for what I do. I’m in a position where I can make a difference to the lives of sick and vulnerable children.

“And, quite frankly, there’s not much I can imagine that is more rewarding, than that.

“The Government however, just use and take advantage of that. Boris Johnson and others around him have taken advantage of the passion and drive in student nurses, like myself.

“Thrown us straight into the ‘Deep End’ knowing that, because of that passion to do what we love, we will probably swim anyway without any support.

“I’m swimming – and I won’t give up – but I’m crying out for help. I keep going because I have no choice.

“But that doesn’t make my struggles right, fair or even necessary.”

Jess added: “As I stepped into my Degree, those leaving and newly qualified left with no student loans to pay back, having had free tuition also.

“As it stands, I will leave and qualify in September 2020 – and leave with my tens of thousands in debt, as those entering get extra Bursaries, in return for all their hard work. “Those of us in the middle? We’re pretty much screwed. Not just mentally, because of the current staff shortages and excess workload, but financially.

“How can you justify this? How have we been so easily forgotten, after we’ve given so much?

“Do you know how hard it is commuting an hour, each way, three to four times a week, for 12.5 hour shifts as a single mum to two young children? “Not getting to kiss my children good morning, or goodnight, for half the week? It’s horrendous and pretty soul destroying.

“At this point I’ve nothing that I can show them for it, except the bags under my eyes, and a consistently stressed out mama.

“I applied for Universal Credit in November 2019 and swapped over from Tax Credits. Do you know I’m getting even less! You couldn’t make it up.

“Apparently you have to take the whole of my student loan income off, of what I’m entitled to, instead of taking 63p off for every £1, like everyone else.

“Because, as a student I’m not working for it? This joke isn’t even a funny one. Because when they told me I cried, for a hell of a long time.

“I work SO hard, for nothing in return. The fact I’m a student nurse should stand for something in situations like this.

“Because, when told I wasn’t working for it, I nearly gave up there and then. How can you expect me to keep going? I’m just human.

“I’m breaking here, and my kids are the only ones suffering. I will still try and continue ‐ with absolutely no financial recognition.

“And the knowledge that I’m working so hard – for free – just to dive head-first into a messed up NHS at the end of it.

“I’ll continue working for free, just to become one of the thousands of health professionals working together at the bottom of the NHS hierarchy, buckling under the pressures. Policies the Government bring us.

“I’ll do that, because I’m a good person. But the Government don’t deserve people like me. Are they comprehending the gravity of my situation yet?

“Does Boris  Johnson have any answers for me – and those others who are suffering also? I really hope he takes the time to consider everything I’ve said.

“I subsequently hope he takes the necessary steps, to ensure that those of us who feel severely under-appreciated for everything we give of ourselves, are made to feel as appreciated as we deserve.

“Not just because I feel we earn it. But, because it’s fair.”