A STUDENT nurse who has been on the NHS frontline since the start of the pandemic says medals wouldn't have "much meaning".

The nurse was working in a West Yorkshire hospital on an unpaid placement when covid-19 measures were first brought into place.

Since then, she has been making up for a national shortfall in the profession, become a band four level nurse and all the while finishing essays for her degree.

Student nurses, paramedics and midwives now pay £9,250 in annual tuition fees with many in the cohort who missed out on the bursary.

Speaking for the Government, care minister Helen Whately said it is "extremely grateful" to students and will "be ensuring all students who do so are rewarded fairly for their hard work".

But the Government said it currently has "no plans" to reimburse tuition fees.

There has been calls from some MPs and grateful patients for people to receive medals but the student nurse we spoke to says her profession has "always" been about saving lives.

Instead, she feels it would be better to scrap this year's tuition fees for healthcare students who stepped up to help before their degree was complete.

The nurse, who wished to remain unnamed, told the Telegraph & Argus: "I don’t think a medal has much meaning. The profession I’m going into is always saving lives and it would be unfair to reward us with medals now.

"It’s as if the pandemic has made more people appreciate the work we do, but that appreciation should have always been there.

"Nursing is challenging with or without the pandemic. For that reason the bursary should have never been scrapped, the debt is a burden for the rest of our working lives. Lives which we will spend saving lives.

"I don’t feel like the tuition fees should apply to any degree, in particular the nursing degree.

"It’s not something that can be bought, it’s something which we earn. So much time, effort, sweat and tears is required to achieve a nursing qualification.

"Having gone through that myself during the pandemic, I think it is reasonable for our debt to be wiped off."

A campaign launched by the Telegraph & Argus has seen people across the country call for this academic year's fees to be scrapped as a show of gratitude for these students.

A change.org petition has been signed by more than 750 people - many of whom are parents or friends of those working in our hospitals as you read.

Michelle Scott, who lives in Cleator Moor in Cumbria, said: "Student nurses work thousands of unpaid hours in our health care settings often incurring parking charges and topping up rent which is rarely covered now. To pay fees on top is shocking."

While another supporter, Hamzah Jalib from Birmingham said: "CLAPS DONT PAY THE BILLS, we need to show real appreciation for those students putting their lives at risk."

Jill Playford, who lives in London, explained her reason for signing: "I have a granddaughter who is in this position working long hours whilst completing academic work."

If you would like to throw your support behind the petition, visit https://bit.ly/2yGNYqC