RCN urges nursing students to seek permission before staging a walkout

Students might jeopardise their placements if they take part in NHS protest, college cautions 

The RCN is urging students who plan to stage a one-hour walkout next week to ensure they do not jeopardise their placements.

The college advises nursing students to secure the permission of their manager, mentor or university tutor. It emphasised that walking out means students could lose important clinical placement hours, which might affect their NHS bursary.

The planned protest on February 10 will be a show of solidarity with junior doctors, in dispute with the government about pay and conditions. It will also demonstrate the students' anger at the proposal to abandon the NHS nursing bursary in favour of student loans.

An RCN statement concludes: ‘Taking part in workplace demonstrations in your own time should not put you at risk, however members do have a duty to uphold the professional standards in the Nursing and Midwifery Council code.'

Second-year nursing student Helen Corry has been helping organise protests. She said: ‘We’ve made it clear we are not staging industrial action and this advice mirrors what we are saying.

‘We want to send a strong message to government, but equally no one should do anything they don’t feel comfortable with.

‘If you want to support doctors and our cause without walking out then you can always use the hour to hand out leaflets to patients or wear one of the badges. Both are available through the NHS Bursary Cuts Forum Facebook page.’

Last month British Medical Association chair Mark Porter wrote an open letter to nursing students expressing ‘deep disappointment’ at the proposed bursary changes and vowed doctors would continue to support them.

The RCN recommends nurses take part in political campaigning if they want to do so, and suggests visiting its Nursing Counts website, where members can learn how to contact their MP.

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