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Plans to scrap nurse bursaries will lead to staff shortages

RCN survey reveals widespread opposition to proposals

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 06 June 2016

Government plans to scrap student nurse bursaries will lead to an even greater staff shortage in the NHS.

This is the warning from the Royal College of Nursing, which has released the results of a survey of over 17,000 nurses, two-thirds of whom say they would not have studied nursing if they’d had to take out a full student loan and pay fees.

The RCN says this suggests the government’s proposal will put off thousands of potential nurses. 

The survey also revealed that 89% of respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the Government’s plans, and 79% believe the changes will have a negative impact on patient care.

Nurse educators felt the same way, with 80% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the proposals.

The Government hopes that the new plans will allow for a big increase in the number of student training places, but has not allocated any funding for the extra clinical placements and mentors at hospitals. 

Some 81% of nursing staff said they did not believe that registered nurses currently have the capacity to mentor more students.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN said: “The message from nurses is loud and clear: these proposals would reduce the supply of nursing staff and damage patient care.

“These proposals represent a huge gamble with the future of the nursing workforce and the Government has not properly evaluated the many risks involved.”

She added: “Every extra training place needs a high quality clinical placement to give the student practical experience. The Government has not explained how these extra placements will be funded, and nurses are clearly saying that without extra funding the quality of mentoring will suffer.”

RCN members and other union members marched from St Thomas’ Hospital to Downing Street at the weekend, to protest the plans. 

Picture: London, 2 December 2015: student nurses protesting outside the Department of Health in Whitehall against the Government's axing of student nurses' bursaries. Credit: Dinendra Haria / Shutterstock.com

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