Nursing students will now take out loans after George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement and Spending Review cuts to NHS bursaries used to pay tuition for nursing degrees.
The cuts mean NHS funded courses such as Nursing and Midwifery will now be subject to the £9000 per year tuition fees in place for other university level courses in England.
The Department of Health currently spends £826m of the £5bn it gives annually to Health Education England (the NHS education and training body) to help fund the approximately 60,000 student nurses through their three years of education.
— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) November 25, 2015
President of the Nursing and Midwifery society Danielle Tiplady, expressed how furious she was with today’s announcement.
She said “This is beyond insulting to people like me, who are on placement and work for free. We should be rewarded for our hard work and not punished.”
“Already I have heard how people are now changing their minds about training as a nurse… They are daunted by the 50k plus debt we student nurses will sadly face. We must take action to stop the Tories and their cruel cuts against student nurses, our colleagues, our patients and our beloved NHS!”
Other students who receive bursaries from the NHS and are affected by todays announcement include midwives, physiotherapists and nutritionists, alongside medicine and dentistry students who are in their final year of studies.
Other plans set out by the Chancellor for the NHS include an extra £600m for mental health services.
KCLSU Vice President for Health Education and trained mental health nurse Sophia Koumi reacted to the news and said, “I’ve been working on funding in my role at KCLSU for students in health services and it’s atrociously low. While students are in receipt of the bursaries, they are denied access to other university bursaries offered to the student body, such as the King’s Living Bursary.”
“The Government scrapped the Access to Learning Fund last year and left universities to make up for it themselves following the tuition fee rise. Only after campaigning to bring it back did universities agree to replace the fund. Having a specific pot for students to help sustain themselves whilst in education.”
“This is further evidence of the current government’s plan to dismantle the NHS, disenfranchising its staff and telling its students: ‘We don’t care about you.’ There are student nurses who have resorted to food banks just to get by whilst studying.”
“I want to work with mental health patients and I love the NHS, but now I’m left wondering if I can – if I can afford to sustain myself and if I’d be fit to with the kind of hours they require of young staff. It’s terrible that access to public healthcare professions is being narrowed, leaving students to consider either private healthcare or working abroad.”
Osborne’s announcement comes in the wake of the British Medical Association declaring three days of strikes for the first time in decades following failed negotiations over the contracts for junior doctors.
A petition to get Parliament to keep the NHS bursary has over 10,000 signatures at the time of writing.