To avoid high fuel prices, student nurse slept in the car

Student nurse said that he has slept in the car during work shifts to save fuel costs.

To avoid high fuel prices, student nurse slept in the car

Student nurse said that he has slept in the car during work shifts to save fuel costs.

Jake Benjamin Smart, a student nurse in mental health at Ulster University's Magee campus near Londonderry, is Jake Benjamin Smart.

A third-year student has asked the Department of Health for an increase in the travel allowance that students receive.

Robin Swann, Health Minister, announced an increase in the payments to most social and health care workers last month.

The Department of Health stated in a statement that they are reviewing the mileage rate for students starting in September.

The third-year nursing student spoke to BBC Radio Foyle and said that he and his peers are experiencing financial difficulties due to the current cost-of-living crisis.

"The cost of living has increased, diesel and petrol prices have gone up, and now we live off PS430 per month.

We are not advised to work around this course as it is a full-time program.

"I know of students, including myself, who had to sleep in cars at the hospital grounds, because they couldn't afford to travel back home or travel up to their placement the next day."

Smart stated that student nurses are under a lot of financial strain at the moment and that the situation is not sustainable.

"I work seven days a semaine and do 40 hours a weeks as a student nurse. I also pull extra shifts to ensure that my rent is paid, and that the children get food.

"Yes, our course is funded. Not everyone has that luxury. But because it's funded, we only have a bursary. We don't have any right to student loans or maintenance loans.

According to Mr Smart, students can only claim mileage up to a certain amount depending on how far they live from the university.

"Suppose you live 20 miles from the university, and your placement is 60. You can claim 40 miles for the distance you traveled to get there.

Rita Devlin (Director of the Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland) said that she was "very concerned" about student nurses being forced out of nursing training due to the current cost-of-living crisis.

"The student bursary has not changed or moved in the last 10 years. It is currently PS430 per month for students.

"The bursary is meant to provide them with the financial support they need to continue working."

She said, "A student nurse works half the time in student placements. We are very concerned about the impact of the cost-of living crisis on our students."

"Students can claim mileage at 24.4p per mile. If you consider that petrol and diesel prices have risen to nearly PS2 per litre, that doesn't make sense."

Ms. Devlin said that the mileage allowance was "the cherry on the cake" and called for an overall increase in the bursary allowance.

Ms Devlin stated that "we can't afford one student nurse to go, because we are so dependent on them coming in to fill the enormous vacancies in our healthcare service,"

She stated that she would be raising urgently the issue of student poverty with Robin Swann, Health Minister.

The Department of Health stated that nursing and midwifery students in training can apply for extra travel to places through the bursary office of Business Service Organisation (BSO).

According to the department, the process has been operating successfully for many years.

They also stated that if a claim is received from the bursary office, it is paid to the student the next month.

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