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Monday, 15 January, 2001, 15:59 GMT
Lecturers' action hits student nurses
Nurses tending to sick baby
Many student nurses say they cannot start work
Industrial action at universities and colleges across the UK is said to have left thousands of nursing students unable to qualify and take up positions in the NHS.

The action, which is in protest at pay and working conditions for all higher education staff, means students' marks are being withheld in a work-to-rule.


We have had three years of hard work and very little pay, and now we can't even get the jobs we are entitled to

Mark Davies, Nursing student
Some trainee nurses, who cannot officially graduate, are having to delay starting new jobs and others face being paid lower salaries as unqualified nurses.

It is thought up to 3,000 trainees are being affected by the action by about 100,000 members of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (Natfhe).

Mark Davies, a nursing student at Teesside University, said he and his peers were angered by the situation.

"We have had three years of hard work and very little pay, and now we can't even get the jobs we are entitled to.

'Nightmare'

"We don't even know when we will be able to qualify. It means some people are going to be in a situation where they are not getting a student bursary and aren't getting paid - it's a nightmare," he said.

They were having to take lower paid posts or delay starting dates altogether, he added.

A spokeswoman for Natfhe said the union was trying to keep the disruption to a minimum.


This situation needs to be resolved as soon as possible to avoid even greater problems in a health service already short of 22,000 nurses

Royal College of Nursing
"It may mean that some trainees will have to enter the NHS on an auxiliary basis, but that very often happens anyway," she said.

"There does tend to be a delay between graduation and receiving a pin number and registering - it may be that it's slightly longer than normal."

The union was asking universities to contact their local NHS trusts to try to negotiate an agreement whereby students are taken on on a temporary basis, she added.

"The next round of talks with the employers is due to take place in early February.

"It's really down to them now - we hope they'll see sense and end this dispute," she said.

Nursing body support

Director of employment relations at the Royal College of Nursing, Stephen Griffin, said the college was aware of the concerns of nurse lecturers regarding their workload, pay and working conditions.

"These problems should have been addressed by university employers much earlier and it is a matter of great concern that this dispute is likely to cause serious disruption to the NHS and nursing students alike.

"This situation needs to be resolved as soon as possible to avoid even greater problems in a health service already short of 22,000 nurses," he said.

The action by Natfhe began in December last year.

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See also:

05 Dec 00 | Education
University staff work to rule
18 Dec 00 | Education
Union anger over 'missing' wage rise
28 Sep 00 | Health
Cost of nurses soars
09 Sep 00 | Health
NHS to draft in foreign doctors
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