An exhausted trainee midwife’s “woman-to-woman” plea to Theresa May to save student bursaries has been shared online more than 8,000 times.
The Government is to scrap bursaries for student nurses and midwives from August 2017 in favour of student loans, a decision ministers say will free up £800 million a year and help people from disadvantaged backgrounds get into the profession.
But many midwives disagree. After working “50 hours in the last 4 days”, “exhausted” student midwife Alison Brindle wrote an emotional open letter to the Prime Minister begging her to reconsider the decision.
The mum-of-three says that without the money, she and other trainees would not be able to afford to study midwifery.
Brindle wrote: “My feet hurt from working the wards and I’m hungry because all I could eat were the sandwiches in my bag and crackers from the vending machine. I don’t get paid for the work I do and I struggle to pay my bills. We eat basic meals and shop on a daily basis.
“So why would I put myself and my family through this? Because I get a bursary each month. It isn’t much but it helps. It gives me that security that no matter how difficult, I get something,” she continued.
“It means I can keep my car on the road which is essential for me to do what I love, it means I can travel to placement and make a difference to so many people day after day.”
But the 38-year-old believes the bursary represents more than just financial support.
“It keeps the fire in my belly burning and the passion in my heart for caring for women and making their experiences the best they can be, it gives me pride to work in the NHS!
“I plead with you woman to woman,” Brindle wrote. “Don’t scrap our bursaries, they give us hope, they give us a purpose, they give us a chance. #SaveOurBursary.”
The trainee's appeal has received massive support online, with social media users sharing her post more than 8,000 times.
Facebook user Tracey Daley commented: “You’re a star. As the mother of four premature babies, we would be lost without you and my four wonderful children would not be here.”
Midwife Lindsey Celestino added: “This makes me so angry. I could not have become a midwife without it. Full stop. I feel so sad at the future because it will put off so many people especially mature students with children. It makes it impossible.
“We already need thousands more midwives and this isn’t helping that growth or improving of care for women and their families. Student midwives work alongside us and help us so much, in a stressed and overworked environment. They are not observing on the sidelines.”
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) also shared it on their Facebook page, saying it illustrates “precisely” why bursaries need to be saved.
RCM director John Skewes told the Manchester Evening News: “If bursaries are scrapped, as this Government plans, then I have real fears that dedicated and caring students like Alison will either leave before they qualify, or indeed, will not start to train as midwives in the first place.
“This is an important issue as England is 3,500 full time midwives short of the numbers needed,” he added.
“I urge Theresa May, her ministers and her Government to look carefully at this letter, and listen to people like Alison who can really tell them what the reality is and what the results of removing the bursary will be.”