After a petition against the Tories’ plans to cut bursaries for student nurses and force them to pay high tuition fees reached 100,000 signatures in just two days, MPs will be debating the issue in Parliament on Monday 11 January.
If the measures are implemented it will mean debts of over £50,000 with which future nurses will enter the workplace, and while they are studying and doing work placements they will be forced to find work to support themselves at the same time. The only realistic outcome of this is that future nurses will be deterred from the profession or forced to endure atrocious living conditions during and beyond their studies.
All of this comes as the Tories are trying to shove degrading new terms and conditions down the throats of junior doctors, which has provoked strike action beginning on Tuesday 12 January. The Tories are waging war on the NHS, driven on by the whip of capitalist crisis and austerity politics.
Student nurses have organised a demonstration, backed by trade unions, for Saturday 9 January, beginning at noon outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London and finished with a rally outside Downing Street. A rally has been organised by UNISON in Newcastle on the same day at 1pm by Grey’s Monument.
We must fight for the NHS, as we must fight for all public services and workers under attack at the present time. The 1% are clawing back all the reforms they granted to the rest of us in the past, under the pressure of an economic system in crisis. If we want to guarantee the future of the NHS, education and the welfare state, as well as decent pay and living conditions, we cannot leave power in the hands of those who defend a failing capitalist economic system, with their thirst for privatisation and their political representatives in the Tory party.
The fight for student nurses and the NHS is the fight for socialism.