Health & Lifestyle

Student nurses get striking lessons during their taxpayer-subsidised training taught by Corbynista

Student nurses are being given lessons in political activism during their taxpayer-subsidised training, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Trainee nurses can take an ‘advocacy, activism and resistance’ module at the University of Essex as part of their degree.

The eight-week course features lectures by Holly Turner, a Left-wing campaigner who urged NHS nurses to reject the Government’s pay offer and launch fresh strikes.

The qualified nurse, co-founder of the NHS Workers Say NO group, has called for a general strike, and says walkouts are designed to put ‘the Tories on the ropes’.

After a lecture last week, Ms Turner posted a picture of herself in front of a PowerPoint slide headed ‘Nurse Activism’. The points included ‘Political Activism for healthcare workers complements clinical practice.’

The eight-week course features lectures by Holly Turner, a Left-wing campaigner who urged NHS nurses to reject the Government's pay offer and launch fresh strikes

The eight-week course features lectures by Holly Turner, a Left-wing campaigner who urged NHS nurses to reject the Government’s pay offer and launch fresh strikes

The qualified nurse, co-founder of the NHS Workers Say NO group, has called for a general strike, and says walkouts are designed to put 'the Tories on the ropes'

The qualified nurse, co-founder of the NHS Workers Say NO group, has called for a general strike, and says walkouts are designed to put ‘the Tories on the ropes’

NHS Workers Say NO has links to Extinction Rebellion, and Ms Turner has expressed ‘solidarity’ with ex-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, describing him as ‘our biggest champion and supporter’. She has regularly campaigned with hard-Left figures on the Labour benches, including John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Richard Burgon and Zarah Sultana.

Students must take either the activism module or a Public Mental Health course as part of their three-year BSc degree at the university.

Trainee nurses qualify for £5,000 taxpayer-funded grants towards the £9,250 annual course fees.

The course states students will learn to ‘actively resist… practices and policies that have detrimental consequences for groups of people’.

Among the module’s ‘learning outcomes’ is the need to ‘interpret the consequences of legislation, public policy and health and social care policies based on people’s experiences and identify mechanisms that can be used to challenge public policy and influence policy change’.

Another requires students to ‘demonstrate the development of political awareness and courageous, compassionate person-centred activism and solidarity with people and colleagues’. The course will be taught by ‘keynote speakers, researchers and people with lived experience’.

The University of Essex denied that students were being taught to oppose Government policy.

In a row over pay, members of the Royal College of Nursing began strike action last year for the first time in its 106-year history. It has staged a number of walkouts since. In May, a number of other NHS unions accepted a pay rise of 5 per cent, along with a one-off payment, but both RCN and Unite members voted against the deal.

However, nurses’ strikes ended last month after the RCN, the largest nursing union, failed to secure enough votes for further action.

Following this, NHS Workers Say NO issued a statement saying: ‘The fight for fair pay and to save our NHS is certainly not over. Our task must now be to continue to organise in our workplaces, stay united as an NHS workforce… and come back ready to fight harder than ever for the next pay round.

‘We stand by our junior doctors and consultants and all workers taking strike action, solidarity!’

Dr Caroline Johnson, a consultant and Tory MP on the Commons Health Select Committee, said: ‘Nursing students are there to learn how to care for people well, not to be taught political activism by Left-wing individuals. That students seem to be being asked to choose between this course and such an important topic as Public Mental Health is very concerning.’

The university said Ms Turner was not paid for her guest lecture. It added: ‘We are not teaching students to oppose Government policy, but to stand for patients and the interests of those with health needs that may be least well catered for.

‘The courses to which this module contributes were approved by the regulatory body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council, as well as our own rigorous processes.’

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