Bursaries protest leader praises junior doctors for their support

Organiser of march against student bursaries plan says solidarity in the NHS is vital


Nursing students have forged an alliance with junior doctors as both parties battle separate government proposals.  

Their message of solidarity comes as the British Medical Association (BMA) resumes talks today with the Department of Health (DH) and NHS Employers aimed at averting a strike planned for next week.

It is a crucial week for both groups because nursing students are preparing for their own action against the government in protest at the loss of bursaries. The main focus of protests is a march on Downing Street on January 9. Junior doctors are expected to take part.

The march organiser and King’s College London Nursing and Midwifery Society president, Danielle Tiplady expressed her gratitude for the doctors' backing.

She said: ‘We supported the junior doctors when the government came for them, and now it is coming for us, the doctors are doing likewise.

‘We get messages from doctors on all our social network platforms backing our fight. They are right behind us and hopefully many of them will come with us on Saturday.

‘I was even invited to speak at a BMA conference last month, which made me very nervous as I’ve not done much public speaking. At two points in my speech they all stood and cheered, which just blew me away. If we don’t stand together, the whole future of the NHS is in jeopardy.’

If the junior doctors refuse to work on anything but emergency cases next Wednesday, nurses are likely to feel the pressure to cover some of their duties. However, the advice from unions remains that nurses do no more than they feel physically able to do, and refuse to carry out jobs for which they are not being paid.

More than 55,000 junior doctors are involved in the dispute over changes to their contracts and the loss of unsocial hours pay.

Industrial action had been planned before Christmas but was narrowly averted when the BMA agreed to the new talks.

A walkout next week could be followed by two further full strikes, with some doctors apparently wanting to continue the stoppages on selected days throughout the year if their demands are not met.

A DH spokesperson said talks were always better than strikes and it was prepared to discuss any aspect of the contract as long as its goal of an NHS that functions fully every day of the week remained achievable.

For full details of the nursing students' march, see their Facebook page here

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