The Government’s plan to scrap the NHS bursary for students of nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects could mean local nurses face debts of £64,000. The Government plans are likely to deter nursing students from courses (especially mature students) when there is already a shortfall of nurses in the NHS.
By exacerbating the staff shortage and recruitment crisis, the UK could also become further reliant on overseas recruitment, undermining the Government’s net migration target. The announcement has also come without any detail or proper assessment of the impact.
I recently wrote to the Secretary of State for Health to express my concerns and push him to reconsider. I specifically asked what assessments have been made in to the impact of the changes and in particular the level of student debt. I also highlighted that student nurses cannot, unlike other students, work part time elsewhere on top of long study hours and placement requirements within the NHS.
Along with Wes Streeting MP and Danielle Tiplady, a student nurse at King’s College London, Unison and the RCN, I also met with Health Minister Ben Gummer MP to push this issue further. I have also sponsored an Early Day Motion in support of the campaign.
The Government will soon open a consultation on the issue – but only about implementing the policy. I hope to ensure people also focus on mitigating its likely negative side effects and remain opposed to the policy change overall.