Scottish Liberal Democrat Liam McArthur MSP has today told the Scottish Government to “put its money where its mouth is” and ensure student paramedics are not left out of pocket ahead of the introduction of a new bursary.
Mr McArthur, who led efforts on the Pay Student Paramedics campaign in the Scottish Parliament, has called on the Scottish Government to ensure the bursary is in place for the new term start, or commit to backdating payments to cover any absence.
The bursary would offer paramedics support similar to the kind student nurses and midwives receive, and has been the subject of the ongoing Pay Student Paramedics campaign. Despite earlier resistance, a commitment to introduce this bursary featured in the SNP manifesto.
In response to a parliamentary question from Mr McArthur, the Health Secretary Humza Yousaf stated that the Scottish Government is “working with the Student Awards Agency Scotland to examine the impact on operational and system functionality to support an introduction at the earliest opportunity”.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“Despite the government’s earlier reluctance, I’m glad to see that a new bursary is on the government’s to-do list. Now that the principle has been accepted, it needs to become a reality sooner rather than later.
“A new intake of prospective paramedics will be beginning their courses later this year, and they need this support to be in place. Otherwise, loan payments can leave them with as little as £25 a week to survive. Reports showed student paramedics having to live below the poverty line.
“If bureaucracy is a barrier, the Scottish Government should commit to backdating payments so nobody is left out of pocket.
“It’s now time for the Scottish Government to put its money where its mouth is, and pay student paramedics.”