The Programme for Government outlines the actions that The Scottish Government will take in the next upcoming year. On Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the Government's programme for 2020/21 expressing her debt of gratitude to health workers yet there was no mention to help and support their student paramedics.
Previously, The First Minister promised that the government would look at the lack of support in funding for student paramedics and would re-assess the government's position on the matter. However, student paramedics were not mentioned in any of the government's plans for the year ahead and no timescale of when this matter will be reviewed.
Tuesday's outcome was disappointing for student paramedics as we are fully aware on how important this matter is and the severity of it, not only to us, but to Scotland's future and to the Scottish Ambulance Service. So we hoped that The Scottish Government also realised this and would have implemented it into this years Programme for Government.
FM also stated, last week, that due to the financial constraints that The Scottish Government operate within, there would be no easy solution to allow the funding. However, it would only take up less than one percent of the health budget to fund all student paramedics in Scotland even when all Universities are running at maximum capacity. This small percentage would be a huge investment in Scotland’s future, allowing the Scottish Ambulance Service to gain an adequate number of trained paramedics as at present they are grossly under-staffed.
ABOVE: Graph showing the comparison of the 20/2021 Health Budget compared to the cost that a student paramedic bursary would cost.
The Scottish Government believe in a "fairer Scotland for all" built of the over-riding the beliefs that gender, race, and class should not impact on inclusion or the equality of opportunity.
The Scottish Government value… making Scotland a safer, stronger and more inclusive society, where everyone can… realise their potential.
Many could say that they are contradicting within their belief and values as they are allowing other healthcare courses to have a better opportunity than they do for a student paramedic by providing them with sufficient support. The Scottish Government are removing financial barriers from other healthcare students however are not doing this for student paramedics.
Those who are eligible can apply for a standard bursary - up to £2000, which realistically is not practical to live off. Those who have financial support from families will have less restrictions to starting the paramedic science degree. This itself is putting a divide between class. This should not determine if an individual can financially afford a paramedic science degree. If an individual cannot receive financial support from their family, they will ultimately have three choices to make, struggle with a second job, live under the poverty line or simply avoid the degree.
By making a safer and stronger Scotland, they must prioritise their frontline workers and support their student paramedics. This bursary would not only benefit student paramedics and the Scottish Ambulance Service, but for everyone in Scotland.