Consultation on plans to scrap the nursing bursary is launched

People have until June 30 to give the government their views on how to implement the education funding reform

The long-awaited consultation over the government’s controversial plan to replace NHS bursaries with loans has been launched today.

People are being invited to give their views on how the reform is implemented but not on the principle of it.

The move would mean nursing degree course fees will no longer be paid by Health Education England nor will students have access to the bursary provided by the NHS Business Services Authority.

The plan to make the switch from August 2017 has been met with anger and protests from nursing students since it was announced by chancellor George Osborne in his Spending Review last autumn.

There have been demonstrations, marches and debates over how such changes may discourage people – especially mature students with existing degree debts – from studying to become nurses and midwives.

The government insists the move will bring nursing education into line with other subjects already covered by loans from The Student Loan Company and it will allow the government to provide up to 10,000 more nurse training places by 2020.

Health minister Ben Gummer said: ‘Since the wider reforms to higher education, our universities are offering more places and those from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to access an undergraduate degree.

‘Our proposed reforms will extend these benefits to nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, who have so far been excluded from these benefits.

‘It is vital that the changes are implemented in the right way, which is why I would encourage as many people as possible to contribute to the consultation.’

Director of nursing for HEE Lisa Bayliss-Pratt added: ‘HEE is responsible for ensuring the NHS has the right people with the right skills, values and behaviours in the right place at the right time.

‘This mission remains unchanged by the new funding arrangements for nursing and allied health professional university fees, which have the potential to increase the number of graduates available to the NHS by more than is possible under the current arrangements.

‘Our job, with universities and with the NHS, is to ensure that we continue to recruit high quality graduates to the service to support patients with safe, high-quality services in the future.’

The consultation will run until June 30 and is available here.

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