Student nurses "do not provide a service", according to Tory minister Helen Whately.
Whately is the minister for social care, made the remarks about student nurses in a letter. The government scrapped the NHS bursary for student nurses and midwives in 2015, which led to a significant drop in applications. But they will be introducing an “NHS learning support fund” later this year, with grants of up to £8,000 for student healthcare professionals.
A student nurse, Jess Collins, contacted her local MP to help and received a letter from Whately in response. The letter said that the government has no plans to introduce a scheme to help the people who have been nurses in the years in between 2015 and 2020, who now say they feel like "guinea pigs".
Most sensationally, the letter says:
Student nurses in training are supernumerary and are not deemed to be providing a service.
Collins also pointed out that some elements of the letter she received seemed to be inaccurate.
On social media, people were angry that Whately seemed not to think that student nurses didn’t provide a service, when that's not been their experience.
This from Helen Whateley is INSULTING to the 25,000 student nurses without whom the NHS would have collapsed & to p… https://t.co/DNeqnzZLD2
This isn’t the first time Whately has been criticised for how she handles a sensitive topic. When she appeared on Good Morning Britain in April, it seemed like she smirked after being asked about the deaths of thousands of people in nursing homes during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She's not responded to the social media outrage about her latest comments, but we'll be sure to update you if she does.