Scotland protects nursing bursaries as part of multi-million pound NHS investment

RCN welcomes NHS cash boost from Scottish and Welsh governments


The RCN has welcomed multi-million pound investments in the NHS from both the Scottish and Welsh governments which will be used to boost nurse training.

Scotland is to release £3 million to train an additional 500 advanced nurse practitioners (ANPs), along with a discretionary fund of at least £1 million for nursing and midwifery students experiencing financial hardship.

As part of the total £27 million investment in the Scottish NHS announced by first minister Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland is to retain a nursing and midwifery bursary, alongside free tuition fees for nursing and midwifery students.

Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to scrap the nursing bursary in England in the spending review last year and replace it with student loans.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish government was ‘completely committed’ to retaining the bursary and said the government wanted to attract the best young people from all backgrounds into the workforce.

She also acknowledged the important role of ANPs and said: ‘By investing in training, we can ensure that nurses continue to play a hugely important role – applying those enduring values in the health and care service of the future.’

RCN Scotland director Theresa Fyffe said the college welcomed the package of measures: ‘We have long campaigned for a structured development path for these highly skilled nurses, so investment in the skills and development of future ANPs is a step in the right direction.

‘We also saw a commitment that the Scottish government will continue with a nursing and midwifery bursary, although there is no detail as yet on its level.’

Meanwhile in Wales the RCN has praised a commitment from the Welsh government to increase the number of nurse training places by 10% in 2016-17 as part of an £85 million package of investment in healthcare professionals.

Wales will see the highest increase in nurse training places since devolution in 1999, with an increase of 135 places in 2016-17 to 1,418. 

RCN Wales associate director Peter Meredith-Smith praised the proposals and said: ‘An increase in the number of nurses being trained becomes even more important now as we move closer to a situation whereby Wales will become the first European country to set legal minimum nurse staffing levels for certain NHS clinical wards.’ 

He called on the government to increase training numbers year on year to secure safe staffing levels.

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