Daniel Zeichner has raised concern about the future of NHS nursing after the Government failed to bring forward funding to pay for 10,000 extra nurses.
The news comes after applications to study nursing in the 2017-18 academic year dropped by 23% following the abolition of student nursing bursaries. Instead, the Government announced it would make £800m available and pay for an extra 10,000 places partly by abolishing bursaries.
In March 2016, Daniel met with Anglia Ruskin students to oppose scrapping bursaries. Student nurse Giovanna Mead explained that losing bursaries could saddle students with debts of at least £51,600.
Nursing students must spend half of their degree working under supervision – usually in a hospital setting. But universities are reporting that not a single extra nursing training place has been allocated. It would cost £15m over five years to fund 10,000 new nurses.
Brexit also means that a potential recruitment pipeline to the UK is disappearing. The number of EU nurses registering in the UK has fallen by 96% in less than a year. Only 46 EU nurses came to work in the UK in April, reported the Nursing and Midwifery Council, compared with 1,304 last July.
Daniel Zeichner said: “Although I opposed scrapping nursing bursaries, the Government said the money saved would be used to expand the number of places. But, increasingly, universities are warning that the Government is breaking its promise to provide an extra 10,000 nursing places to relieve pressure on the NHS. With no new funding announcements and dwindling numbers of new nurses, this now looks like a broken promise and a straightforward cut – showing the Government is intent on running down our NHS.
“Too many students are being forced to abandon their dream of a career in nursing care because of the prohibitive costs of training. Since many students work in a hospital while studying already, they cannot supplement their income using part-time jobs.”