Sturgeon pledges to retain nursing student bursaries in Scotland
Two standing ovations for Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon as she pledges to retain nursing and midwifery bursaries and to ensure safe staffing levels
Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has guaranteed not to remove the nursing and midwifery bursary from students, saying that to do otherwise is shortsighted.
Delegates gave the SNP leader two standing ovations when she addressed the RCN congress in Glasgow this morning (20 June), and she was cheered when she made commitments on staffing levels, pay, and support for students.
‘Unlike the UK government, we recognise the role and contribution of student nurses and the demands they face, and that is why I am confirming our commitment to retaining the nursing and midwifery bursary and free tuition fees in Scotland,’ she said.
‘Removing the bursary is shamefully shortsighted. Reducing support for nursing students means not enough support for the patients of tomorrow. It’s a mistake; it’s wrong-headed and I hope the UK government changes its mind.’
Ms Sturgeon, a former Scottish heath secretary, also repeated commitments to maintain increases in health funding, said that Scotland would continue to respect the recommendations of independent pay review bodies and was committed to an NHS that was publicly owned, publicly run, and free at the point of need.
She said that tackling poverty and health inequalities was vital to improving health and life expectancy for all, and praised the role of nurses in working with the most vulnerable.
Value of nursing
And she said that the Scottish government’s flagship policy of integrating health and social care, which came into force in April, was already having a positive impact, such as a reduction in delayed discharge in Glasgow.
Specifically on nursing, Ms Sturgeon cited investment of £3 million to train an additional 500 nurse practitioners, as well as 1,000 additional training places for nurses and midwives. She also confirmed that mandatory workforce planning tools to ensure safe staffing levels of nursing and midwifery staff would be enshrined in law.
Ms Sturgeon spoke of the value of nursing, and said that the Scottish government was committed to retaining professional nursing advice at the heart of policy-making.
All nurses had a leadership role, she added, telling delegates: ‘You are the leaders of today’s health service and you are the leaders of our health service in the future.’