Opposition MPs set to challenge government over plans to ditch NHS bursary

Nursing students plan to demonstrate outside parliament to support the challenge

Nursing students are due to demonstrate at the Houses of Parliament tomorrow (May 4) as opposition politicians challenge the Conservative government's plans to scrap nursing bursaries.

The Opposition Day debate has been called by Labour’s shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander after 139 MPs – including a former nurse – signed an early day motion calling for the proposals to be reconsidered.

The motion calls on the government to drop its plans to remove NHS bursaries for nursing students, midwives and other allied health professionals and consult on how best to fund and support the future NHS workforce.

In response the #BursaryorBust campaign group has called for an emergency show of support to take place at noon in Parliament Square.

Writing on its official Facebook page a campaign spokesperson said: ‘This is exciting. This means we can win.'

The scrapping of bursaries is part of the changes to health education funding which were outlined by chancellor George Osborne in his spending review last autumn.

The MP for Lewes and former nurse Maria Caulfield is the most prominent Conservative to oppose her party’s plans.

Ms Alexander said: ‘Jeremy Hunt has spent months picking a fight with junior doctors and now he seems determined to start another one with the next generation of nurses, midwives and allied health professionals.

‘The Tories’ decision to cut nurse training places during the last Parliament has already left hospital wards dangerously understaffed and patient care suffering as a result.

‘However, this situation will only get worse if ministers press ahead with their plans to scrap NHS bursaries and end up discouraging the future front line staff we so desperately need.’

The debate follows last week’s statement from the RCN which also calls on the government to go ‘back to the drawing board’ and rethink its plans on student nurse funding.