Spending Review: Grants for student nurses are being scrapped


Student nurse

Grants for student nurses are to be replaced with loans.

It has been announced as part of the government's Spending Review as it wants to "modernise" the way healthcare students are funded.

The cap on the number of student nurses is being abolished too, so more people will be able to train each year.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is concerned, saying "student nurses shouldn't have to pay for it".

Chancellor George Osborne with healthcare staff.
Image caption George Osborne chats to healthcare staff

The news hasn't gone down too well with some current and prospective nursing students.

There is already a petition calling for the government to keep nursing students' bursaries.

Fewer nurses in the future?

On Newsbeat's Facebook page, Vikki Wood wrote: "I thought we needed more nurses going into the profession rather than less?"

The government argues that by abolishing the existing cap it will mean that far more people will be able to start training.

At the moment universities only have a certain number of places to offer. The government says that over half of all applicants are turned away.

It says the removal of the cap means up to 10,000 new training places will be created over the course of the parliament.

The RCN says that's a "boost".

'Putting people off'

Bethany Amero wrote: "As someone applying to be a student nurse who will have to work 37.5 hours a week for free (not including the hours I will have to stay whenever I am not finished on time as the hospital is so understaffed), I find this disgusting!"

"We already have a shortage of nurses. This will put so many people off of doing this career."

Some Labour MPs have the same fear.

The government says universities had to turn down 37,000 nursing applicants in 2014 and argues there's no shortage of people who want to be in the profession.

But it obviously can't predict whether people will be put off from training if there is no bursary.

The RCN says: "There are still a lot of question marks about how the system will actually work but the RCN is certain that anything that makes people worse off or deters them from becoming nurses, would be a big loss to our society."


'Working for free'

Sarah Parker wrote: "I appreciate the bursary I get but I still have to have a part time job and that's with a partner who works full time! God knows what I'd do if I had kids.

"I think it's ridiculous to expect people to pay to work for free."

The government argues that under the current student support system, health students will receive 25% more financial support whilst they study than they do at present.

However, the RCN says the ring-fence to nursing student funding has now been removed.

It says "a precious link between the NHS and its nurses is potentially at risk, making it harder to plan for the future workforce."

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