SOUTH Lakes MP Tim Farron has thrown his weight behind calls to cancel tuition fees for the thousands of student nurses working on the frontlines during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Mr Farron argued it was time the Government ‘supported them in return’ for their contributions at a time of national crisis.

Newsquest, publisher of The Westmorland Gazette, has launched a national campaign to scrap this academic year’s tuition fees for all student nurses, midwives and paramedics at the heart of the NHS effort to tackle the biggest public health crisis in a century.

Mr Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, also says he has written to Matt Hancock requesting he take action on the question of student nurses’ fees.

He said: “We are all so incredibly grateful to the doctors and nurses on the front-line helping to save lives.

“So it makes it even more outrageous that student nurses in their final year of training are facing debts of £28,000 on tuition alone.

“I’ve written to the Health Secretary urging him to intervene.

“Student nurses are doing so much to support us all at this extremely difficult period - it’s time the Government supported them in return.”

According to an official count last month, more than 5,550 students from 35 universities in the country had opted to interrupt their studies and take up an extended, paid clinical placement to help tackle the crisis.

However, student nurses - along with students of every other healthcare subject - have not seen any reduction in their tuition costs.

The government has advised universities can continue to charge full fees and refused a multi-billion-pound bailout for the sector.

As a result, universities in England have maintained fees at £9,000 per annum, as many prepare for a financial shortfall.

The prospect of continued online teaching into 2021 means higher education centres are bracing themselves for thousands of students not to apply or take up places for the coming academic year across all subject areas. A group of 82 Labour MPs have called on the government to support student nurses in England by wiping the higher-education debt of those nurses working for the health service during the pandemic.