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Bring Back Our Bursary: March For The NHS This Saturday

27/02/2017 16:22 GMT | Updated 27/02/2017 16:25 GMT

Last year, students took to the streets to save the NHS bursary. This Saturday, we will again.

This time though, it's about more than student funding - it is about the future of our health service itself.

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In a march that is shaping up to be the largest mobilisation in history in defence of the NHS, coaches will depart from all corners of the country. We will come together to demand sustainable funding for the NHS itself - as well as the students and workers who keep it functioning.

Having sustained years of cuts, closures and privatisation; hospitals, clinics and pharmacies up and down the country are struggling to survive. Waiting lists are longer, workers' pay is lower and dozens of hospitals have declared they can no longer guarantee patient safety.

The photo of the small boy sleeping on a chair because there were no beds left at a hospital made headlines. But nothing had been done since, and if you can believe it, the worst is yet to come.

Last month, figures for university applications were released. There has been a 23% drop in the number of students applying for nursing degrees since the NHS Bursary was cut - proving it a vital lifeline to many. NHS students don't just study; they work on placements and often part-time too. Amongst them are more working class, more parent and more mature students than the general university population.

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Labour is highlighting how the cut to NHS bursaries is affecting nursing applications.

The Government boasts of a target of 10,000 more nurses to staff our services, but if students' aren't even applying, this is a falsity. If Theresa May really wants to fix the NHS crisis, she should reinstate NHS bursaries immediately.

For the Tories though, the NHS isn't failing. In fact, their plan is going well. We know they are ideologically opposed to anything being "free"; the idea that services are paid for by society and free at the point of use is a socialist fundamental. They would sooner we moved towards an insurance system where the individual pays for what they need, like in the USA where the poorer you are, the sicker you are destined to be. That was partly why, I believe, they chose to cut the NHS bursary. Future nursing and other healthcare graduates won't have the same affinity to the NHS without it having part-funded their studies.

It cannot be down to NHS students alone to fight - because we all rely on its services. From the sexual health clinic on campus to the A&E service on a night out. The mental health practitioners our institutions refer us to, and the pharmacies who dispense our medication. Every service protects our members and each and every one is under attack.

Just as we joined our postgraduate medical students in their fierce fight against the imposition of Junior Doctor contracts, we will join community campaigns, patient advocacy groups and trade unions in coming together to say that enough is enough.

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So from lecture theatres to operating theatres, from our homes, our workplaces and into the streets we must stand together - united for #OurNHS.

You can find out transport information for attending the demonstration at ournhs.info