Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur has expressed his disappointment at the Scottish Government’s continued refusal to offer bursaries to student paramedics.
This position was confirmed during a debate in the Scottish Parliament last night, led by Mr McArthur. Mr McArthur repeated his call for the government to treat student paramedics with fairness, bringing the support they receive in line with that available to student nurses and midwives, who are currently eligible for a bursary of up to £10,000.
This reflects the fact that student paramedics, like nurses and midwives, are required to undertake significant amounts of unpaid work as part of their course, making It difficult if not impossible to find part time employment to meet living costs.
In response, the Minister for Public Health Joe Fitzpatrick said: “while I don’t necessarily agree with every word that Liam McArthur said, I do agree with his sentiment.” He went on to confirm that a review of support for allied health professionals will take place, though no timeframe was given.
Commenting following the debate, Mr McArthur said:
“I’m disappointed in the Scottish Government’s response. The Minister says he agrees with the sentiments of the Pay Student Paramedic campaign, but sentiments don’t pay the bills.
“During the debate, colleagues from across the Chamber agreed with me that a bursary for student paramedics is both reasonable and necessary. It reflects the demands placed on these students and the urgent need to ensure that more of them see this as an accessible career choice. Sadly, the Scottish Government continues to kick the can down the road.
“We know from official figures that staffing within the ambulance service is currently under real strain. There are gaps across the network, including here in Orkney, that need to be filled.
“It therefore seems not just unfair, but reckless, for Scottish Ministers to leave student paramedics on the breadline. A review with no timetable offers little light at the end of the tunnel for those we expect to step up to the frontline of our national health service”.