Welcome to the UNISON Healthcare Family.

UNISON is the UK’s biggest trade union with over 1.3 million members.

We are proud to represent the whole NHS team – NHS staff who, whatever their job, make a vital contribution to patient care. We represent thousands of student nurses and other health students in every part of the UK.

Studying and training to be a nurse or health professional is exciting but can be stressful and challenging at times also.You are often providing direct patient care but have essays to worry about whilst managing your clinical placements and supporting yourself through your studies. That’s why it’s important not to struggle alone. UNISON is the biggest trade union in the NHS and our branches and networks are always available to support you if you need help.

Whilst you are on placement you will be exposed to the same risks as the colleagues you will be working alongside, so you will require the same union cover giving you    access to back up and support should you encounter any problems or difficulties. UNISON has a local branch in every board so there is always somebody on hand if you need help or advice.

UNISON offers a special discounted student rate of just £10 per year which provides you with full membership benefits. Many of our Health Branches in Scotland also offer specific joining benefits.

Here’s a quick video highlighting the reasons for and benefits of joining UNISON:

What does UNISON do for students?

COVID-19 response

The COVID-19 emergency placed unprecedented pressure on the NHS and placement providers. The NMC and HCPC created new emergency standards for student nurses and AHPs. UNISON pushed hard to protect the safety of students and to safeguard educational opportunities as much as possible. UNISON will also be there to support students as we leave the emergency arrangements and return to clinical placements on a supernumerary basis.

We fought for students to be well-remunerated for their work during the emergency and to ensure issues such as student-loan repayments or welfare entitlements were not affected. In Scotland, Cymru/Wales and Northern Ireland we made sure students continued to receive student bursaries whilst earning on paid placements.

Student survey

We undertook a survey of students recently so that we could better understand your experiences during the COVID-19 emergency. We will use what we learn from this survey to help make us more effective at campaigning for the change that will make a real difference to you and the students who come after you.

 Student networks

Student nurse and midwife network

UNISON has a national network of student nurses and midwives which meets virtually to discuss the key issues affecting students. The network feeds their views back to senior UNISON representatives and elects a national student nurse lead who sits on the union’s national nursing and midwifery committee. If you’d be interested in joining the network as a student please e-mail health@unison.co.uk with details of your place of study and your UNISON membership number.

Operating Department Practitioners (ODPs)

 A student lead for ODPs has just been appointed and will be setting up an ODP student network. Watch this space….


The Placement Pledge

We know that going on placement can be a stressful and challenging time. It is important that you are properly supported on placement and given the right opportunities to learn. You need to have a placement that is well planned, well supervised and that equips you with the necessary skills.

We surveyed students in 2019 and based on what you told us, developed a ‘best practice pledge’. This encourages universities and employers to work together to ensure that you have the best experience possible whilst on placement.

You can read more about our pledge at here

Race for Equality

Towards the end of 2019, UNISON launched its Race for Equality campaign to challenge racism in the NHS. With all that has happened in recent months (the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 and the BLM campaign) this work is even more urgent. You can read more about this campaign at here.

Hospital Car Parking

 We have been campaigning for a number of years for free parking for all hospital staff. Hospital car parking is free across most of Scotland, but there are a number of sites where it is not, or where parking fees have been suspended, Boards are looking to reintroduce them. One of the things about placements is that, depending on where you are, or what shift you are on, you may need to drive to work at some point. And that might be expensive, especially if you are strapped for cash. That’s why our hospital parking campaign is so important. The aim of the campaign is to get to get every UK hospital, to sign up to our parking charter and pledge to scrap parking charges for staff. Find out more, and get involved at here.


 Finance for healthcare students differs, depending which part of the UK you live in. Students in Scotland receive a bursary, and we have campaigned continually for a number of years for increases to this Bursary.