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I just can't afford to train as a nurse; ZOE FEARS SHE WILL BE FORCED TO ABANDON PLANS FOR CAREER IN NHS.

Byline: KEANE DUNCAN @keanedunk

A STUDENT nurse fears she will be forced to cut her studies short as she battles to make ends meet.

Teesside University trainee Zoe Sutton works 40 hours a week but is struggling to survive on her student bursary of just PS450 a month. After falling pregnant aged 16, the ace student gave birth to her son in November 2013 - but returned to her studies and got into university.

She was put on various placements and is due to start at the University Hospital of North Tees.

Now, as she considers her future, the 21-year-old's story has been shared hundreds of times on Facebook to raise awareness.

"I am working nearly 40 hours a week basically unpaid, because I care. Because I know I am doing good by being there," said Zoe.

"Why am I being scrutinised for trying, for trying to get a degree and trying to have a career?" The first-year said the bursary trouble started two months into her course, when she moved into her partner's home in March.

She criticised a "huge barrier in communication" with NHS bursary administration, which meant the reassessment of her circumstances took four months. After racking up a PS1,000 childcare debt, the couple were forced to take their son out of nursery.

And when the bombshell notice from the bursary service arrived, it stated she was no longer entitled to parent learning allowance, dependence allowance or any form of childcare for three-year-old son Oakley. She receives PS450 a month to cover her monthly costs of PS750.

Amid the worst recruitment crisis in NHS history, she is now considering ending her studies.

"Reasons to end this course are now seriously outweighing the reasons to stay. I care so much for the NHS and I want to make a difference," said Zoe. "I hear on the news that they are crying out for nurses, yet what support is being put into universities to help?" Zoe's is the last cohort to receive the bursary, with new students receiving support from the Student Loans Company.

The Department for Health said the reforms will help universities provide up to 10,000 extra places and will offer students 25% more up-front financial support.

But the Royal College of Nurses said axing the bursaries risks "cutting off " the supply of new nurses, with the number of applications down 20% this year.

A spokesman for NHS Business Services, which administers the existing bursaries, said they will look into Zoe's case to determine whether lessons can be learned.


Zoe Sutton talks about how important the NHS bursary is for students IAN COOPER

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Aug 10, 2017
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