You can listen to the interview below or listen to the entire show here.
Yesterday, Megan an orcadian student spoke with Charis from BBC Radio Orkney about the Pay Students Paramedic campaign.
Megan explains why she started the Change.org petition which now has over 18,000 signaures and has led to hunderds of student paramedics forming the Pay Student Paramedics campaign.
From the beginning of the interveiw, Megan stated that she will be starting university in September studying Paramedic Science and voiced her financial worries about being able to live off the standard SAAS payments.
After realising that she and other student paramedics would be short on funds, Megan used her inititaive to start a petition to highlight and bring attention to the fact that student paramedics do not get enough financial support from the Scottish Government.
Charis questioned what the petition is asking for with Megan explaining that the petition is to establish student paramedics parity by creating an equal bursary to that already received by student nurses and midwives. She further explains that these students receive £10,000 bursaries to accomodate their needs. In comparison, student paramedics receive very little.
The structure of all three health-care degrees are almost identical to one another with the same requirement of placement hours, however, student paramedics are not recieving the financial help that they need.
Whilst Megan and other student paramedics are already financially struggling at university, they are required to gain their C1 driving license before starting employment, which can cost around £700-£1000. This also must be funded independentley with no help. This adds to the difficulty faced by student paramedics in Scotland to finish their degree before the ability to gain employment as a paramedic.
Megan told Charis that she had taken a gap year to save money for university by working a full-time job. Once Megan layed out her expenses and calculated her savings from her gap year including her standard SAAS bursary. She came to the realisation that she would still be falling short by around £2,000 to cover bills, in her first year.
Megan adds that there is a group chat where 130 student paramedics communicate with one another. The second and third year paramedic students were asked how they support themselves at university, which many had explained that they are forced to take second jobs adding a lot of pressure and workload and for those who can not, unfortunatley have no other choice but to live below the poverty line. Megan also adds the difficulty of securing a job, as many employers are not able to work around placement hours.
Charis asks Megan if there is a shortage of paramedics in Scotland. Megan replies stating that only last year the government announced in a public report that the Scottish Ambulance Service was unable to cover 42,000 shifts last year due to staff shortages. Megan says that this is only one of many reasons as to why we need the funding - to encourage aspiring paramedics to pursue their degree.
This funding we are asking for would take up less than 1% of the government budget for healthcare in Scotland
Finally, Charis asks how the Pay Student Paramedics campaign is going. Megan replied that it is going incredibly well. Much to her surprise, there has been so much support and effort gone into having the campaign heard. This includes a campaign video, offical website and social medias. The campaign is supported by the three Trade Unions (GMB, Unison and Unite), College of Paramedics and the National Union of Students. Megan adds that the Scottish Liberal Democrats recently publically supported the campaign.