Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Thursday) pressed the Scottish Government to commit to introducing a bursary scheme to support student paramedics.
During First Minister’s Questions, Mr McArthur highlighted that Scottish students studying to become paramedics are asked to work the same hours as a fully qualified paramedic during the course of their degree. While this makes part time work almost impossible, trainee paramedics are not given bursary funding in recognition of this.
Mr McArthur has previously raised this with the Scottish Government but was told that there were no plans to amend the funding options.
In response, the First Minister acknowledged the case being made and gave an assurance that the government would continue to consider how better support could be made available to trainee paramedics.
Following the exchange, Mr McArthur commented:
“Paramedics play a vital role within our NHS, but this is not reflected in the support they are given to become qualified.
“Like student nurses and midwives, trainee paramedics now need to complete a degree course while also working similar hours to a fully qualified paramedic. Unlike student nurses and midwives, however, those training to be a paramedic are not eligible for a bursary, despite being unable to take up part time work. To add insult to injury, their counterparts in England do receive bursaries.
“This lack of a level playing field risks putting off those we need to see coming into our health service. The current arrangements do little to encourage young people to pursue a career as a paramedic and store up problems for the future.
“When I wrote to the Health Secretary recently on behalf of a constituent, I was told the government has no plans to review the funding options for trainee paramedics. Today, Nicola Sturgeon said she would look into the matter, having also been approached by a young constituent, angry at the unequal treatment.
“The First Minister needs to recognise that introducing a bursary scheme would make a real difference, not least in widening access to the profession. It’s time the Scottish Government properly recognised the dedication of our trainee paramedics by putting them on the same footing as trainee nurses and midwives.”