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Nursing bursaries will be scrapped from next year, Department of Health confirms

Consultation and protests fail to change ministers' minds
Bursary_or_Bust_Demo

Bursaries for nursing students will be scrapped from next year, the government has confirmed.

Nursing students in the #BursaryorBust movement have not changed ministers' minds. Picture: Grant Humphreys

This means that nursing and midwifery students will face 9,000-a-year tuition fees and student loans from August 2017.

The RCN previously warned axing the bursary will leave graduates with debts of up to 50,000.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies registered her dismay at the news at an RCN council meeting today.

Nothing has changed in our position and we will be just as strong on it,' she said.

Placement costs

'The issues we highlighted in our consultation response have not been answered. Questions about students who take maternity leave, those with child care, what about the costs of placements?

'All of these things, they havent gone away even if the money is lost.

Bursaries for nursing students will be scrapped from next year, the government has confirmed.

Bursary_or_Bust_Demo
Nursing students in the #BursaryorBust movement have not changed ministers' minds. Picture: Grant Humphreys

This means that nursing and midwifery students will face £9,000-a-year tuition fees and student loans from August 2017.

The RCN previously warned axing the bursary will leave graduates with debts of up to £50,000.

RCN general secretary Janet Davies registered her dismay at the news at an RCN council meeting today.

‘Nothing has changed in our position and we will be just as strong on it,' she said.

Placement costs

'The issues we highlighted in our consultation response have not been answered. Questions about students who take maternity leave, those with child care, what about the costs of placements?

'All of these things, they haven’t gone away even if the money is lost.’

RCN council chair Michael Brown added: ‘The majority of our members at the grassroots will be incensed.’

Consultation

The funding announcement follows a three-month consultation on the proposals, in which 1,750 responses were received.

New health minister Philip Dunne, who made the announcement, insisted the government had listened to feedback in the consultation and had made a number of concessions, including:

  • £1,000 each year will be available for childcare costs.
  • Up to the first £303 of travel expenses will be paid upfront, while dual accommodation costs will be paid to those who demonstrate the need.
  • A bursary for tuition and maintenance will meet the full costs of the postgraduate students’ course starting in 2017/18.
  • The Department of Health (DH) said it will work with organisations such as the RCN to provide exceptional hardship funding for students who meet eligibility requirements.
  • Nursing, midwifery and allied health professional studying for a second degree will be able to access the standard student support system on the same terms as students studying for a first degree.
Training places

The DH insists the move will fund up to 10,000 more training places by 2020 and provide students with about 25% more financial support.

But research from Unison and the National Union of Students found the plans could cost the NHS 2,000 recruits a year if prospective students are deterred by loans.

Despite the concessions the news has come as a massive blow to the #BursaryorBust movement, which has organised protest marches and demonstrations since the plans were first revealed in November last year.

King’s College London nursing student and campaign founder Danielle Tiplady said: ‘I am incredibly disappointed to hear the government is steamrolling ahead.

Lifeline

‘There has been increasing evidence from frontline staff which highlights how the bursary is a lifeline to many. This signifies to me the government simply do not want to listen and do not have the NHS' best interests at heart.

‘I continue to stand by my stance that the bursary loss will put off people entering nursing. I will continue to fight for this and for nurses because, right now, our whole profession is sadly in a not-so-bright place.’

Mr Dunne said: ‘We’ve listened to feedback from the consultation and as a result will provide extra funding to help cover additional expenses like travel and more support for students with children.

'We will work with the RCN, hospitals and other partners in taking this forward.'


Further information:

Government response to bursary consultation

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