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Nursing students prepare to fight for bursaries

Date set for protest ahead of parliamentary debate over plans to scrap nursing bursaries 

Battle plans have been drawn up by nursing students who are fighting the government for the right to receive a bursary to fund their training.

The main event will be a protest march taking place on Saturday January 9, two days before a petition to keep the bursary is due to be discussed by MPs in the House of Commons.

This is also a date the students want to mark with a day of action around the country to gather more support against the government's plans.

King’s College London Nursing and Midwifery Society president Danielle Tiplady was behind a demonstration against the plans which saw 500 students gathered outside the Department for Health earlier this month.

They were demanding to see health secretary Jeremy Hunt in the hope he could persuade chancellor George Osborne to abandon his plan to replace bursaries with student loans from September next year.

Since then she has been spearheading the protests by requesting to meet with MPs, speaking to the media and planning more events.

Yesterday (Thursday 10 December) she met with an adviser to Ilford North’s Labour MP Wes Streeting – the former president of the National Union of Students – who on Monday will raise the matter with a health minister in the House of Commons.

Speaking after the meeting she said: ‘His adviser wanted to know about me, about nursing students, about the bursary and its importance to us and what we plan to do next.

‘We are also hoping that Wes will be able to join us on our march on January 9. It's early days so I can’t confirm the route until the police approve it, but it’s definitely happening.’

Ms Tiplady has created a new Facebook event to publicise the march and revealed a new forum will be launched to help widen the scope of the protest.

She added: ‘The last protest began as a King’s College London Nursing and Midwifery Society event; now we want to move beyond King's and get the whole country talking.

‘The response has been amazing and there is so much still to do. I have heard from doctors at the Royal Free Hospital who say their organisation is 100% behind us and the RCN wants me to submit a proposal so it can decide how to support us too.

‘At the last protest we dropped a letter off for Mr Hunt but he has not responded to me yet.  I remain really keen to meet with him.’

Other elements of the plan include a Christmas card which students will be able to download from the forum to send to their MPs asking for support – as well as a draft letter they can personalise and send to directors of nursing at their respective NHS trusts.

The MP debate will take place on January 11 and is in response to a petition set up by nursing student Kat Webb which currently has more than 146,000 signatures.

For more details of the march and the campaign visit the Facebook page here

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