Students claim a lack of financial support from the Scottish government is to blame.
Two in three paramedic students have claimed they struggle to put food on the table due to a lack of financial assistance.
A survey carried out by campaign group Pay Student Paramedics found that over 80% struggle to make ends meet on a monthly basis, as well as pay for unexpected major expenses, and over 67% struggle to put food on the table.
A further 95% say they are concerned that money they are given will not last long, and 75% claim they do not get any financial support from family to make up.
Evidence in the report also found that paramedic students are working in excess of The Working Time Regulations 2003 Act, resulting in students being burnt out as a result of their studies.
The report also found that many paramedic students who are struggling to find food are relying on food banks, staying at family and friends homes and working various jobs just to make ends meet. This raises the concern of paramedic students struggling to get by experiencing negative impacts on their performance and patient outcomes.
The report comes as Scottish paramedic students begin and return to their studies for the academic year.
In addition to poor finance, many students are overworked according to the report, with paramedic students working on average 44.25 hours per week, with one student reported to have done 84 hours on placement per week. They claim this will have deadly consequences, referring to junior doctor Lauren Connelly, 24, who died falling asleep at the wheel after an exhausting shift back in 2011.
Craig, a 35-year-old professional volunteer community first responder and professional first aid trainer from Glasgow told Pay Student Paramedics that he will have to lose his income to study BSc Paramedic Science at the University of Stirling saying: “I have found myself in a position where I no longer have a day job and the pandemic has meant the ability to focus on finding clients to train in first aid has all but fallen aside.”
The Scottish government unveiled their annual plan for the year ahead at the start of September, however, while the first minister expressed her “debt of gratitude to health workers”, there were no plans revealed to give additional support to student paramedics.
Pay Student Paramedics is a campaign set up by paramedic students in Scotland who are lobbying the Scottish government to give them greater financial assistance equal to students in nursing and midwifery.
The campaign says they feel paramedic students should be entitled to the same benefits as nursing and midwifery students as their courses are both identical in terms of structure, with 50% of the course involving working full time with trained professionals with no pay.
They claim because of this that it is “near impossible to work alongside study and make enough of a living to survive as employers often see us as ‘unreliable’ due to the unsocial hours that we need to work” as well as being “very likely to suffer from burnout and high levels of stress”. You can find more information about the campaign, report and donate on www.paystudentparamedics.org and visit their social media pages.