Editorial

Scrapping nursing bursaries at such a difficult time makes no sense

While many university students will now be enjoying some well-earned time off, nursing students face a more demanding summer.
Bursary or bust

I'm a nursing student and have just worked 85 hours in the last 8 days. I've had one day off in that period of time. I've not seen my daughter in days and I can't get a paid part time job as let's face it I have to actually sleep.

This is the real experience of a mature student involved in our Facebook debate about the governments decision to scrap nursing student bursaries.

Most university students finished the academic year in June and will have been enjoying some well-earned time off. Or perhaps working to earn enough money to go travelling.

They will not be working in mentally and physically demanding roles, with unsocial hours, caring for people in need, while probably working for what would amount to

‘I'm a nursing student and have just worked 85 hours in the last 8 days. I've had one day off in that period of time. I've not seen my daughter in days and I can't get a paid part time job as let's face it I have to actually sleep.’

This is the real experience of a mature student involved in our Facebook debate about the government’s decision to scrap nursing student bursaries.

Most university students finished the academic year in June and will have been enjoying some well-earned time off. Or perhaps working to earn enough money to go travelling.

They will not be working in mentally and physically demanding roles, with unsocial hours, caring for people in need, while probably working for what would amount to less than the minimum wage.

Why pay?

Why should nurses of the future pay an estimated £50,000 plus to prop up the NHS? Yes, attrition rates need to be addressed but they are unsurprising given the demands of a nursing degree. Not many people would take on the stress of full-time work and a demanding academic schedule. So why make it near impossible for a large number of potential nurses – especially mature students with families – to even contemplate joining the profession?

We know from experience that the nursing workforce often suffers at the hands of the short-termist whims of the government of the day. And it is clearly business as usual at the Hunt-run Department of Health.

But it is madness to scrap bursaries at a time trusts are in financial crisis and previous failures to commission enough nursing places has meant record levels of agency spend and a desperate, expensive scramble to recruit nurses from abroad. And we also know from experience that a dearth of nurses combined with budget pressures means patients will suffer. Once again, the government’s ‘saving’ will prove a costly mistake.

Reforms to nurse education funding to go ahead

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