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'Die-in' staged as nursing students accuse government of 'murdering' NHS

Striking junior doctors joined trainee nurses in today's stunt at Department of Health

Chalk outlines have been drawn on the ground outside the Department of Health (DH) in London as nursing students accuse the government of killing the NHS.

As part of their continued protest against the planned scrapping of the nursing bursary, which nurses use to fund their courses and accommodation, nursing students lay on the pavement in Whitehall while others drew chalk lines around their bodies.

The resulting outlines were then signed along with messages to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, such as This is Our NHS Hands Off Hunt.

The stunt this afternoon involved dozens of trainee nurses as well as junior doctors some of whom arrived on a fire engine.

Junior doctors across England started a 48-hour strike at 8am as part of their dispute over the imposition of a new contract affecting their pay and hours.

Nursing students have said

Chalk outlines have been drawn on the ground outside the Department of Health (DH) in London as nursing students accuse the government of ‘killing’ the NHS.

Danielle Tiplady holding the megaphone.  Picture credit: Grant Humphreys

As part of their continued protest against the planned scrapping of the nursing bursary, which nurses use to fund their courses and accommodation, nursing students lay on the pavement in Whitehall while others drew chalk lines around their bodies.

The resulting outlines were then signed along with messages to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, such as ‘This is Our NHS – Hands Off Hunt’.

The stunt this afternoon involved dozens of trainee nurses as well as junior doctors – some of whom arrived on a fire engine.

Junior doctors across England started a 48-hour strike at 8am as part of their dispute over the imposition of a new contract affecting their pay and hours.

Nursing students have said the loss of the bursary will deter people from entering the profession, but the government says it will increase the number of training places and save the NHS £1.2 billion a year.

The ‘die-in’ – as it has been named by organisers – came after nursing students used their breaks or got permission from ward managers to join the doctors for two hours on picket lines that have been set up outside hospitals across the country.

As part of the 'die-in', there was a performance by members of the the National Health Singers' choir, as well as support in person from celebrities including Vanessa Redgrave.

A petition signed by more than 100,000 people opposing the government's plans on the nursing bursary and the junior doctors' contracts was handed in at the DH.

Third year nursing student Danielle Tiplady helped organise the event and said: ‘Jeremy Hunt is determined to kill the NHS so we wanted to show him he’s not going to get away with murder.’

The junior doctors' picket line at Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow also received a boost after actors from Channel 4’s Green Wing reunited at the hospital where the sitcom was filmed.

Famous faces including actors Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig donned green scrubs and waved placards to show their support for doctors and nurses.

The DH branded the strike action by junior doctors ‘desperate and irresponsible’ and said it ‘will inevitably put patients in harm’s way'.

A spokesperson added: ‘If the British Medical Association [doctors' union] had agreed to negotiate on Saturday pay, as they promised to do through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service in November, we’d have a negotiated agreement by now.’

Further action is planned on April 26 and 27, with the first ever withdrawal of emergency care by junior doctors.

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