Hundreds of paramedic students in Scotland are set to benefit from an annual bursary of £10,000 following months of campaigning.
It means that student paramedics will now will receive a bursary equal to nurses and midwives.
Ministers were first urged last summer to take action by students and union leaders with many saying they were living below the poverty line due to a lack of financial support, despite working full time with the Ambulance Service on placement during the pandemic.
An estimated 668 students will be eligible for the Paramedic, Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary (PNMSB) for courses starting this September – with the number of eligible students is expected to rise to almost 900 next year.
Scottish-domiciled paramedic students who have already applied for undergraduate student funding do not need to re-apply as they will reassigned to the new funding package.
The new award, which will be paid over 12 months each academic year.
???? WE GOT THE BURSARY????
Today the @scotgov have annouced that from Sept 21 there will be a bursary for student paramedics in Scotland, equal to that of nurses and midwives!
Our campaign has put this issue on the agenda and won! Thank you to every single person that helped us ???? pic.twitter.com/8YKScq243A
— Pay Student Paramedics #PayStudentParamedics (@ParamedicsPay) July 1, 2021
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The introduction of this bursary for our paramedic students fulfils this Government’s pledge to bolster support for this crucial service.
“Paramedics have been a driving force in maintaining NHS services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and I am determined to ensure we attract and support the next generation of these vital workers.
“Our allied health professionals are the third largest part of our NHS workforce and this announcement underlines our determination to remobilise the service as we emerge safely from the pandemic lockdown.”
Scottish paramedic students studying in the rest of the UK will continue to receive the current undergraduate funding package of tuition fee loan, income-assessed living cost loans and bursary, as well as other additional grants they may be entitled to.
Pauline Howie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “This is fantastic news for current and prospective students across the country. They are an important part of our workforce and this announcement will be a real boost which will help encourage the paramedics of the future.
“Our staff do an amazing job each day and this additional financial support is welcome.
“Student paramedics have been in paid employment in a variety of roles during the pandemic and we are continuing to recruit additional staff across a variety of roles to help further improve services for patients.”
The Pay Student Paramedics Campaign in Scotland was particularly fuelled by the fact that in January 2020, paramedic students in England and Wales along with radiographers and physiotherapists were among those receiving a £5000 a year maintenance grant from the UK government from September 2020.
Over the months students securing cross-party political agreement for their cause.
David O’Connor, UNISON regional organiser said: “This new bursary for student paramedics is welcomed, it will provide paramedics with financial support they need to concentrate on their learning and ultimately becoming qualified.
“The brutal reality is that being a paramedic is an extremely difficult and stressful job, many are facing burn-out and say they are thinking of leaving. Even before the pandemic the service was struggling with our members facing the major part of the burden, feeling unsupported, and often working a shift without an uninterrupted break or indeed a rest break .
“Without this support, Scotland could be facing a critical shortage a of paramedics, given the aging workforce, and the announced increase in paramedic numbers to deliver the modern service.”