THE Royal College of Nurses is urging the government to reimburse tuition fees for nurses serving on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a major boost for our campaign to win a fair deal for student nurses the RCN has made fresh calls for all students in England to have their fees covered.

The Adver launched the Support Student Nurses campaign last month with support from healthcare groups, MPs and unions.

So far hundreds of people have signed an online campaign calling on the government to play fair by student nurses rushed into the frontline to plug the gaps left by a shortage of fully qualified staff.

The RCN, Royal College of Midwives, National Union of Students and Unison wrote to health secretary Matt Hancock but said there has been no response.

They have repeatedly opposed tuition fees but said the Covid-19 crisis has placed the “unfairness” of the government’s policy “into even starker focus”.

Some 26,026 student nurses and midwives have opted to take up a paid placement during their degree to help during the pandemic as of May 22, Health Education England figures show.

Mike Adams, RCN director for England, said: “The vital work student nurses have been doing throughout the pandemic has demonstrated the huge contribution nursing undergraduates make to our health and care services – neither they nor future students should have to pay tuition fees to do this.

“The government must do all it can to ensure that anyone who wants to study to become a nurse is able to do so. No-one should feel they can’t become a nurse because they can’t afford it.

“The NHS entered the Covid-19 crisis with almost 40,000 unfilled nursing posts in England alone – effectively with one arm tied behind its back. Only by increasing the number of student nurses will we be able to provide safe and effective care for all.”

A government spokeswoman said: “We are grateful to all students who choose to support our NHS during this extremely difficult time and we have guaranteed that all students who do opt in to paid placements are rewarded fairly for their hard work.”

Newsquest has launched a national campaign to scrap this academic year’s tutition fees for all student nurses, midwives and paramedics who have stepped up for the NHS frontline.

Across more than 150 local newspapers, we are standing behind these young healthcare heroes.

Thousands of student nurses, midwives and paramedics have been thrown into the frontline, helping to make up for a national shortfall in NHS nursing numbers.

Some are unpaid; many without access to the bursary fund and graduating with huge student debt. And despite their efforts, those graduating this year are expected to foot the annual £9,250 bill for tuition fees to become qualified.

Support our campaign by signing here