Portsmouth student nurse on Covid-19 front line is 'insulted' by care minister's comments

A NURSING student who has ‘held the hands of dying patients’, has said she feels ‘insulted’ by a care minister’s comments those in training are not deemed to be providing a service’.

Monday, 6th July 2020, 3:52 pm
Updated Monday, 6th July 2020, 5:14 pm
Aoife Dreelan from Portsmouth, a nursing student at the University of Brighton

Like thousands of others up and down the country, third-year student Aoife Dreelan, from Portsmouth, signed a contract to work on the front line in the battle against Covid-19.

But the 20-year-old, who is studying at the University of Brighton, was left ‘insulted’ after care minister Helen Whately responded to a letter regarding student finance – writing students nurses were ‘not deemed to be providing a service’.

In a social media post, Aoife, who has lived away from family in order to do her job at Worthing Hospital, wrote: ‘Based on (Ms Whately’s comments): the heads I have stroked and hands I have held of dying patients when their families cannot be with them is not a service.

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Aoife Dreelan from Portsmouth, a nursing student at the University of Brighton

‘The patients I have discussed mental illness with and urged them not to harm themselves is not a service. Showing up to “work” with a smile on my face (even if for the moment it is currently hid behind a mask) and an open ear to listen to patient and their relatives is not a service.

‘The washes I help with to ensure patients are clean and able to feel more like themselves in a strange environment is not a service. Even just the simple task of giving them their medication. Is that not a service either?’

Speaking to The News, Aoife said: ‘It has made everyone feel so worthless.

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‘We stepped up to help and although it was a bit worrying to be thrown in at the deep end, we have helped people and the staff at the hospital who have been amazing in what has been a difficult time.

‘I, like many others, have lived away from my family and it was so emotional being able to do a socially distanced meet-up recently but I felt it was important that I do my bit for the NHS in the crisis. It is insulting to hear that we are not providing a service.’

Many student nurses are also upset over missing out on finance support.

In December last year the government announced student nurses on degree courses from September this year will receive a £5,000 annual grant to help with their living costs.

There are additional payments of up to £3,000 for students in places or specialisms struggling to recruit or to help cover childcare costs.

Aoife said: ‘This year’s cohort has helped out in a crisis but missed out on money that could have really helped us to clear debt and pay rent.

‘We will qualify early this year and I am proud to have been a part of the coronavirus fight but it does feel a bit tainted after the comments and feeling let down over financial support.’

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