Pay Student Paramedics is a campaign run by Paramedic Science Students across Scotland campaigning for a fairer support fund from the Scottish Government which offers parity with Nursing and Midwifery students.
People across Scotland have been writing to their MSPs seeking support from the Scottish Government and receiving canned responses. In which, the Scottish Government drew a comparison on the current support offered through SAAS and the English support system, putting forward that the SAAS package is essentially better despite this not being relevant to the concerns raised. This aspect of the government's response not only shows lack of concern, but also demonstrates that they don’t seem bothered to respond with any form of care or thoughtfulness on the matter at hand. This further adds to our concerns as health and education are devolved powers and therefore a responsibility falls on the shoulders of Scottish Ministers to ensure that our ambulance workforce is invested in and protected for the future generations. We feel that this should be even more apparent than ever before given that we are in the midst of a global pandemic.
The nursing and midwifery bursary was established to support and entice students into this area of study due to a severe shortage of these professionals in the country and increasing population. Both the Scottish Government and UK Government have highlighted that the Paramedic profession is one that is currently facing a huge staffing shortage as shown in publicly available reports. The Scottish Ambulance Service and Scottish Government committed to training one thousand new paramedics in 2016 by 2021 however with the Paramedic profession evolving and now advancing the profession into higher education, future paramedics will be required to study for a degree.
It is no surprise that higher education students are struggling financially regardless of their area of study. However, when you remove the opportunity to work, take away the standard summer breaks and add over two thousand hours of unpaid placement that financial pressure only increases with added expenses and the inability or very little time to undertake part-time work, not to mention the risk of developing severe PTSD and now contracting COVID-19 when these students return to placement.
Students paramedics, nurses and midwives placement hours are near identical and in fact the similarities between these respected areas of study go far beyond placement hours. One of the championing arguments that student nurses and midwives made to establish this bursary was that the number of hours worked unpaid made it near impossible to work alongside study to afford living expenses. The Scottish Government praise themselves on providing this level of fiscal support to Student Nurses and Midwives, as they should, but when Paramedic Students plead for the same level of support it appears that the Scottish Government shows no empathy or consideration for the request often replying with counter arguments that are totally incomparable or inaccurate. It appears to be rather hypocritical and self-depreciating of the Scottish Government to behave this way.
Shamefully the Scottish Government have demonstrated a lack of compassion and consideration over the parity between student paramedics, nurses and midwives. Pay Student Paramedics therefore request that the Scottish Government provide an explicit response to the following posed questions:
Why are student paramedics not entitled to the same level of support provided to student nurses and midwives?
Why has no genuine concern been expressed to address the issue put forward by over 17,000 concerned individuals?
Why has the Scottish Government not addressed the similarities between student nurses, midwives and paramedics or addressed the lack of parity between these students despite their programme structure being almost identical?
Why does the Scottish Government feel that drawing comparison to England on this matter is appropriate when it relates to an issue of health and education, which are both devolved powers, and when the issue will no doubt impact our future devolved healthcare system?