Protest in Manchester on Friday, 4pm
Student nurses have arranged a protest in Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester on Friday (18 December) at 4pm against the Government’s plan to cut NHS bursaries.
In last month’s spending review, the Chancellor announced that next September will be the last time anyone in England could apply for the bursary. Instead, students will have to take out loans to cover fees and living costs. UNISON has calculated that a student graduating in 2020 could leave with debts over £50,000, yet be starting out in the workplace on a salary under £23,000.
Nursing trainees work full-time hours in placement for around half the year, and spend the rest of the time in lectures, without a summer holiday, or Easter break. Half of all student nurses have children or other caring responsibilities. Student nurses don’t currently pay tuition fees, and receive the means tested bursary during their training.
A UNISON survey shows that nine in ten (91 per cent) student nurses would not have applied for the nursing degree without access to the bursary. Students are concerned that fewer people in future will be able to pursue a career in the NHS.
Health workers including nurses, physiotherapists, radiographers, occupational therapists, midwives, radiotherapists, and speech and language therapists will be affected by this cut.
Kevin Lucas, UNISON North West Regional Organiser said:
“The NHS already suffers from a shortage of health care professionals, and this cut can only make things worse. NHS Trusts are increasingly recruiting trained staff from overseas, but this is not an endless supply. Cutting the bursary will increase staffing pressures on the NHS and could cause ward closures.
“Compared to other students, nursing trainees are more likely to be older and to have caring responsibilities. The bursary gives people who are not in a position to take on debts a chance to train in a health profession. It is good for students, good for the NHS and good for patients. It would be a big mistake to cut the bursary.”