Unison joins calls for government to abandon bursary cuts

Unison survey finds 72% think bursary should remain.

The government should continue to pay for the training of student nurses, and not force NHS trainees to fund their degrees with loans, according to a new survey by Unison.

Unison bursary demonstration
Credit: Grant Humphreys

The union has urged the government to halt proposals to scrap the bursary for student nurses and midwives from August 2017, saying it poses a risk to patient safety.

The Department of Health said moving to a tuition fees and loans system in England will fund up to 10,000 more training places by 2020 and provide students with about 25% more financial support.

Unison has joined the RCN in renewing calls for an ‘immediate halt’ to the proposals, particularly in light of the UK vote to leave the European Union.

New poll

A 1,650-strong poll commissioned as part of Unison’s response to a government consultation on the proposals revealed:

  • 77% believe the government must carry on paying the tuition fees of student nurses and others studying to become NHS health professionals.
  • 72% of respondents believe the government should continue to provide a bursary.
  • 34% thought student nurses should receive the government’s national living wage of £7.20 per hour for placement work.
  • 25% thought student nurses deserved to be paid the Living Wage Foundation’s living wage of £8.25 an hour (or £9.40 in London).

Unison said scrapping the bursary would only add to the ‘huge pressures on an already overwhelmed NHS’.

‘This could pose a risk to patient safety,’ a Unison spokesperson said.

‘This has become ever more important in light of the referendum decision as our ability in the future to rely on European and international recruitment will become ever more complex.’

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