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20.06.16

PM urged to halt ‘reckless’ plans to cancel nursing bursaries

Leaders of key health unions, royal colleges and charities have signed an open letter urging the prime minister to halt plans to cancel bursaries for student nurses, midwives and other healthcare professionals.

The letter to David Cameron says that the proposals are being introduced without any risk assessment and, unlike student loans in other parts of higher education, are being introduced without transition arrangements.

The 21 signatories to the letter include Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, and Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unite.

The letter says: “These plans are a short-sighted attempt to solve a long-term and complicated problem. They have not been properly risk-assessed, and continuing with them as they stand would be nothing short of reckless.”

The letter argues that the reforms will disproportionately affect women students, students with children, mature students, and students who already have a degree, who are more likely to be reluctant to take on student debt, and to struggle to find time for the long hours required of a nursing course.

It also criticises the government for not allocating funding for extra clinical placements and mentors to give students practical experience.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We need more home-grown nurses in the NHS because they do an amazing job caring for patients, but currently two-thirds of people who apply to become a nurse aren't accepted for training.”

They said that the reforms would create 10,000 more training places and that student nurses would receive 25% more financial support.

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