Daniel Zeichner MP welcomed the Government’s potential U-turn as media reports have hinted that Ministers could move to reintroduce the nursing bursary, which is a financial incentive to attract people into nursing due to the NHS’s staffing gap.
Mr Zeichner says “If these reports are true then this is a long-overdue move – student nurses don’t have as much time for part-time jobs or summer jobs like other students might, as they work the whole year round on placements and in university. Nursing is a hugely demanding university course, and a vitally important vocation requiring highly-skilled, dedicated individuals. We need to do everything we can to attract people into nursing, to help keep our NHS safe and make sure people have the best healthcare possible.”
In a major U-turn, the government and key NHS bodies in England are now reported to be examining ways in which they would bring back financial support for student nurses, including giving them cost of living grants of £3,000 to £5,000.
The MP added: “I met with representatives from the Royal College of Nursing at the recent Labour Party Conference, and they told me that the NHS has 40,000 nursing vacancies – that’s 40,000 fewer nurses than it needs. In Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland the nursing bursary is still available, and the RCN told me that there has not been a drop-off in nursing applications there. However, 10,000 fewer people a year are applying for nursing degrees in England now the bursary isn’t in place here, which has led to staffing gaps and has made it harder for hospitals to recruit homegrown nurses.
“I hope the Government confirm this as soon as possible, in time for next academic year – so we can train more brilliant nurses and get our NHS the workforce it so desperately needs.”