Student NHS bursary cut ‘reckless’, unions say

Topics covered: Ridouts professional advice

Plans to scrap bursaries for students studying to become front-line health workers has caused 20 groups let by the royal college of nursing to send a letter to the prime minister explaining the possible outcome of his actions, such as students being put off working for the NHS which could in turn have further long term effects on the economy, however the government claims that the changes would create around 10,000 more training places.

At the moment student nurses, midwives and other staff such as physiotherapists are entitled to bursaries of £4,500 to £5,500 each year during their training, along with their course fees being covered, however the government is consistent with the idea of scrapping the bursaries and grants given, in order to bring health staff down to the same level as other students.

Janet Davies the RCN general secretary, said that “as nurses spent half of their degree course working in the NHS it effectively amounted to asking people to pay to go to work which feels very wrong”

The state of the NHS has been questioned by many, including Ms Davies, figures have shown that performance targets for A&E, ambulance services and cancer care are all being missed. Also a survey carried out with 1,240 members of the English public showed that less than 25% of people trusted the government with the management of the NHS, along with more than 50% saying that the NHS was going to worsen over time and only 14% believing it would get better.

BMA Leader Dr Mark Porter said a long-term plan was in need to address the “crisis” in the NHS.

A spokesman for the Department of Health mentioned: “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 nurses aren’t accepted for training, but with our plans, up to 10,000 more training places will be available by the end of this parliament, with student nurses getting around 25% more financial support whilst they study.”

The department of health stated that the extra funding being injected into tuition and training by this parliament will “transform services”.

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