A CAMPAIGN calling on the Government to abolish tuition fees for student nurses ­— hundreds of whom have joined the frontline fight against coronavirus ­— is gaining strength.

The Bolton News launched a campaign last week urging readers to sign a petition to have the fees waived for those volunteering to work before completing their course.

Now four unions have called on the Health Secretary to recognise the significant contribution by nursing, midwifery and allied healthcare students during the current crisis by abolishing tuition fees and reimbursing those already paid.

The Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Nursing, UNISON and the National Union of Students (NUS) have written to Matt Hancock asking him to “acknowledge students’ selfless service, not only with words, but in a tangible and quantifiable way”.

Martin Challender from Bolton Unison which represents student nurses said: “Bolton Unison represents workers in council and allied services.

“We know student fees have made it much harder for people to get a qualification and go into a professional role. We also know that student fees are saddling people with untold levels of debt and worry.

“We are opposed to all student fees but we fully support our NHS colleagues in fighting for the burden of debt to be lifted off student nurses, student midwives and other health students who are playing a vital role in the frontline of this awful coronavirus”.

In the joint letter, the unions ask for the reimbursement of tuition fees or “forgive” current debt for all current nursing, midwifery, and allied healthcare students; abolish student-funded tuition fees for all nursing, midwifery, and allied healthcare students starting in 2020/21 and introduce universal, living maintenance grants.