A RALLYING cry to support frontline student medics counting the costs of tuition fees has been welcomed.

Every day NHS staff walk into hospitals, facing a virus which threatens their own lives and relatives as much as their patients’.

Thousands of student nurses and midwives have been thrown into the frontline, helping to make up for a national shortfall in NHS nursing numbers as the battle against the deadly disease continues.

Some of them are unpaid and even those who are paid face the prospect of graduating with huge student debt.

All of this year’s graduates will have to foot a annual £9,250 bill for tuition fees.

The Gazette and newspapers run by our publisher Newsquest are calling on the Government to scrap tuition fees for student medics serving in our hospitals.

The campaign has been backed by trade union groups.

Kevin Nunn, assistant secretary of Colchester Trades Union Council, said: “We are right behind the Gazette campaign to abolish tuition fees for student nurses.

“Trades unions have argued for years that tuition fees are one of the reasons the NHS can’t recruit enough nurses.

“More people would train as these vital key workers if we got rid of these fees.

“Colchester Trades Union Council believes we should abolish these fees instead of bailing out banks, and businesses that pay no tax in the UK.”

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, added: “Healthcare students have stepped up to the plate to help the NHS through the current crisis.

“The Government can show the depth of its gratitude by writing off their student fees.

“When the pandemic has passed, it must scrap them for all healthcare students in future and introduce proper maintenance support.”

One student nurse said she what she had seen on the frontline would “forever disturb me.”

She said: “I have not refused to look after Covid-19 patients, because this pandemic does not change my reasons for becoming a nurse - to look after people.

“I am not paid to be on the frontline of this pandemic, yet I will continue to attend my unpaid placement putting myself and my family at risk.”

Newsquest approached the Treasury and the Department for Health but they declined to comment.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said: “We are grateful to all students who choose to support our NHS during this extremely difficult time and will be ensuring all students who do opt in are rewarded fairly for their hard work.”

You can sign our petition by visiting petition.parliament.uk/petitions/319626.