Doctors' leader weighs in to nursing bursary row

BMA chair voices support for nursing students in face of bursary threat 

Doctors have described government plans to scrap nursing student bursaries as ‘deeply disappointing’.

In a letter today to nursing and allied health professional students in England, British Medical Association chair Mark Porter writes: ‘The BMA was deeply disappointed to learn of the proposed changes to the NHS bursary in England and the impact this will have on our student nursing and allied health professional colleagues.

‘Nurses, midwives and health professionals are an integral part of our NHS. We will continue to support you alongside the wider public and we hope the situation will be resolved for nursing and allied health professional students in a positive way.’

Chancellor George Osborne announced he wants to scrap nursing bursaries from September 2017, and said nursing students would have to take loans to pay for their tuition fees and living costs.

The government said the change will save £1.2 billion a year and fund up to 10,000 new training places. The Treasury estimates loans will provide students with 25% more financial support during their studies. 

Protesters will march on Downing Street this Saturday (January 9), and junior doctors are expected to take part. The bursaries proposal is due to be debated in parliament on January 11. 

The doctors' message of solidarity comes as the BMA confirmed around 45,000 junior doctors would take strike action next week following the breakdown of two years of negotiations with the government.

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