Zoe is a student midwife in my local hospital.
In her third year of training, she has already helped deliver countless children into the world.
Celebrated the happiest of moments with families,
And held the hands of women in the worst moments: through stillbirths and miscarriages, tears and devastation.
She does this, not because she has to. She left a career to retrain because she wanted to make a difference. She wanted to care.
She juggles assignments, lectures and placements on nightshift.
She misses birthdays, dates, weddings, tucking her children into bed.
The patients she supports don’t know that she’s a student. But they know that she’s the hand to hold, the shoulder to cry on, the friend to celebrate with.
And she does it all, unpaid.
The NHS bursary was designed as a recognition of the contribution students like Zoe make to our health service.
Designed to recognise that NHS students have longer academic terms, shorter holidays, and spend half of their time working on placement.
But now the Government wants to take this small stipend away.
In response, these students have been leading an inspiring, campaign called Bursary or Bust.
Recognising, that without their bursary, so many students would not have the financial support to keep them going.
A higher proportion of NHS students are mature, working class, and have caring responsibilities.
Research proves that it is those students who are the most debt averse and put off by high tuition fees.
Cutting their bursary and replacing it with a loan will mean putting these brave NHS students into poverty – or denying them access to the health profession altogether.
Our NHS is already in crisis. Not only in how it is financed, but now with how the people who staff it are financed, too.
This Government thought they could rush this policy through while the Junior Doctor contract dispute was ongoing.
They thought the student nurses would shut up and put up and be forgotten about in the process.
Well how wrong they were!
Hundreds of them were stood outside parliament today – demanding to be listened to, respected, treated with dignity.
From the lecture theatre to the operating theatre.