Press Release – 9 April 2020

Labour MPs call for student nurse debt to be cancelled

Sarah Owen is the Labour MP for Luton North, elected in December 2019 and serves on the Health and Social Care Select Committee

Over 80 Labour MPs today joined together in calling on Matt Hancock to support student nurses who have been fast-tracked onto the frontline to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak by cancelling the debt they will have incurred during their studies.

Health Education England has announced that in response to the crisis 5,553 students from 35 universities had signed up to a paid placement as of Friday, rearranging their studies to respond to the Health Secretary’s call for them to join the NHS frontline a few months before they originally expected to end their studies and qualify.

These new nurses now serving the NHS during the ongoing pandemic will still be liable for over £9,000 a year in tuition fees.

In a letter initiated by the Luton North MP Sarah Owen, who serves on the Health and Social Care Select Committee, the group of MPs said they “are calling on the government to support these new nurses by cancelling the student debt they have incurred throughout their studies.”

This follows unprecedented scenes outside homes across the country of the public applauding key workers, as well as health and social care staff who have been keeping key services and the NHS going throughout this ongoing crisis. Over the last month, the country has seen vast sections of the economy, business and infrastructure closed or services greatly reduced in attempts to slow the spread of covid-19.

Latest figures released show that there have been 60,733 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK and 7,097 people who tested positive for the virus have died.

Labour MP for Luton North Sarah Owen commented:

“We owe so much to all the doctors, nurses and other health workers who are risking their own health to keep our NHS going and look after our loved ones during this outbreak.”

“No nurse should have had student debt forced on them – and never have a group of newly qualified nurses faced such a challenging time to join the frontline of the NHS.”

“The public have been showing huge displays of gratitude for NHS workers over the last few weeks, and that’s why the government needs to back up the public’s gratitude and cancel the debt of these new nurses who have answered the call and began their careers early to help our country take on the coronavirus.”

“I’ll continue working constructively with the government at this time of national crisis, but where the public expect workers to be supported, we will push the government to do more.”