Removing bursaries a ‘crushing blow’ for nursing students – RCN

The government has delivered a “crushing blow” to future nursing students by removing their bursaries, says Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). 

Speaking ahead of an adjournment debate in the Commons on finance for student nursing today (14 December), Davies said replacing bursaries with hefty loans will pile more financial pressure onto “an already overstretched part of our healthcare workforce”. 

“If they [the government] hadn’t cut staffing levels and slashed student nurse places in the past, they wouldn’t be forced into playing catch up now – and they are using this as an excuse to justify raiding the nursing education budget,” she said. “This is unjust.”

The government confirmed its plans to change the funding for nursing education in last month’s Spending Review. At the time it was suggested the move to loans will mean access to 25% more financial support for health students during their studies. 

But the RCN claims there is already “clear evidence” that the government’s decision is having a negative impact on those who have been thinking about a career in nursing. 

“Hundreds of current nursing students and those who were thinking about studying to be a nurse have contacted us to share their concerns, frustrations and dismay,” said Davies. 

“The RCN wasn’t consulted on the changes, and there is still uncertainty about how the system will actually work, so we will be listening to today’s debate with keen interest. 

“What is certain is that that anything that makes people worse off, or deters them from becoming nurses, would be a big loss to our society.” 

Health Education England (HEE) has stated that although it will not commission or pay for student nursing, midwife and allied health professional courses in the future, the organisation retains responsibility for ensuring the NHS has the workforce it needs through payment for clinical placements where workforce plans have identified need. 

HEE also remains responsible for the quality assurance and improvement of the clinical learning environment and placements. 

It stated: “We do not yet know the detail of how this will work, and over the coming weeks and months we will work with key stakeholders to ensure the delivery of what the NHS needs in terms of geographical and professional split.”


Stephen Born   15/12/2015 at 10:21

Addressing workforce needs of tomorrow, is always frustrated by decisions of spending cutbacks today, which lack the "vision of tomorrow" thinking. Education is often targeted as an easy fix as it doesn't have immediate consequences, but immediately the budget shows better results. When will this roller coaster of quick fixes for the downhill track shock gains speed stop as there is recurring cycles of history providing evidence that the momentum of the downhill ride never produces enough trust to get the roller coaster up the hill of a dwindling qualified nursing workforce to meet the increasing complexity, quality and safety needs of patients. This has to stop.

Mart   12/01/2016 at 13:59

Allied professionals does that include the very small cohort of Dental Hygiene and Therapists doing a diploma with bursaries from the NHS ? What has happened to the governments strategy of dental access. The whole point of increasing the training for DCP in dentistry was to allow access and reduce the costs...Ummm this is well thought out

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