Education Secretary urged to act after student nurses hit by overpayment error

Undated file photo of a nurse treating a patient, as half of nurs

EMBARGOED TO 1000 MONDAY APRIL 14 Undated file photo of a nurse treating a patient, as half of nurses are working through breaks or beyond their shift, revealing a health service under "severe strain", a new report has warned. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday April 14, 2014. A survey of almost 3,000 nurses by Unison showed that two thirds believed they didn't spend enough time with patients, which most said affected care. See PA story HEALTH Health. Photo credit should read: David Jones/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Students nurses attending the University of Suffolk, the University of Essex and Angia Ruskin University have had their loans and grants cut off or reduced due to administrative errors.

And now the Education Secretary Damian Hinds has been urged to “urgently invervene” to ensure those affected receive the financial support they had budgeted for next term.

A total fo 20 universities across the country have been hit and more than 800 people have been told they were paid too much money by the Student Loans Company (SLC) and informed upcoming payments will be reduced or stopped to recover the sums, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said.

Trade unions and professional bodies, including UNISON, the RCN and the National Union of Students (NUS), have called for those affected to receive the financial support they had budgeted for next term.

The letter states: “We are writing to ask you to take urgent action to ensure healthcare students in England and Wales affected by errors made by the SLC will receive their anticipated payment of support in spring, as they had budgeted for.

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“We also ask that you use the power at your discretion as Education Secretary to write off overpayments in the long-term for these students.”

The letter adds: “Our student members are telling us that the risk of receiving a reduced payment, or no payment at all, will compromise their ability to continue studying.

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“In some cases, we are hearing concerning reports from individual students who are considering discontinuing due to these financial pressures.”

Overpayments of between £600 and £6,000 were made in error, the RCN said, adding that many students queried the sums but were told they were correct.

A “huge volume of calls” were continuing to be received from “worried and distressed students” due to the ongoing situation, the letter states.

“A sudden withdrawal of payments will have disastrous consequences for these students, who budget on a term by term basis according to loan and grant forecasts,” it said.

“Many have families and children they will be unable to support if they do not receive additional income in the spring term.”

The letter, co-ordinated by the RCN, is signed by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, NUS, Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Occupational Therapists, Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Society of Radiographers, the College of Podiatry and UNISON.

The universities effected are: Brunel University London, Cardiff University, Glyndwr University, - Plymouth Marjon University, University of Brighton, University of Manchester, University of Southampton, University of Suffolk, University of West London, Leeds University, University of Essex, University of Bedfordshire, University of Worcester, Anglia Ruskin University, London Metropolitan University, University of Central Lancashire, University of Derby, University of Portsmouth, University of Reading and the University of Salford.

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