'We're absolutely knackered, most of us are working two jobs": Student paramedics call for bursary equal to midwives and nurses

Student paramedics are campaigning to be offered the same bursary as trainee nurses and midwives from the next academic year.

The new paramedic science course offered at five universities across Scotland makes the same placement demands as those of midwives and nurses and should offer the same £11,000 bursary, the Pay Student Paramedics campaign group has argued.

Because of the unpredictable nature of placements, students said they were unable to keep steady jobs throughout the year and many were either worried about money or over-working themselves to try and fit jobs alongside placement.

“So far this year it's been 50 per cent placement and 50 per cent at university,” said Matthew Devlin, 21, a first-year paramedic science student at Stirling University.

Matthew Devlin is a student paramedic.

"We did a four week placement, we’ve got an eight-week one coming up, and during them it’s three, four or five 12.5 hour shifts a week, which basically means we have to take time off a job.

"Most employers aren't really happy with you just doing that throughout the year at different points, so it basically becomes really hard to survive.”

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The paramedic science course has newly been rolled out to five universities – Glasgow Caledonian University; University of West of Scotland; Stirling University; Queen Margaret University and Robert Gordon University.

“Most of us are working two jobs,” said Mr Devlin.

"I’m working two jobs right now. And once my eight-week placement starts, I'm going to have to leave one of those jobs, because they won’t support me while I'm away for eight weeks doing 12-hour shifts. You're absolutely knackered, there’s just not enough time.”

Mr Devlin said doing placements had been especially difficult during the pandemic.

"You come back and you’re stressed,” he said. “Everyone processes emotions differently, but you see some stuff when you're out there and it is quite hard to prepare yourself for it.

"And to be doing that and feel like you’re not even supported … we’ve got pledges from parties now, but they’re just pledges until it happens. We’re hoping to get the support by September, because people can’t deal with this.”

The Scottish National Party, Scottish Labour, the Scottish Conservatives, the Greens and the Liberal Democrats have expressed support for the bursary, Pay Student Paramedics said.

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