Nursing and the NHS Bursary Changes
Since mid 2016, it’s been common knowledge that the Government planned to end bursaries for student nurses and midwives from 2017. The Government’s Department of Health confirmed, via their website back in January, that from the 1st August 2017, new nursing, midwifery and most allied health students will no longer receive NHS bursaries.’
This change would affect new students on pre-registration courses (those which lead to registration with one of the health professional regulators), including nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy, radiography, speech and language therapy, operating department practitioners, dietetics, orthoptics, podiatry/chiropody, orthotics and prosthetics.
A loss to make a gain?
The plan was met with waves of anger from across the healthcare sector. And the reason for this change? According to the Department of Health, replacing bursary loans would free up an estimated £800m per annum, creating additional nursing roles by 2020.
In contrast, the Royal College of Nursing(RCN) viewed the changes as unfair and risky, whilst the Royal College of Midwives(RCM) said the bursary change would threaten the future of maternity services.
Another change is that since September 2017, student nurses and midwives now have to pay £9,000 a year for their training, which is a direct result of the NHS bursaries.
Health Secretary to jump-start nurse training
To counteract some of the negativity, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt recently announced plans for an extra 5,000 trainee nurses’places to be created next year in a bid to increase the number of home-grown NHS staff as the UK leaves the EU.
This move is said to be the largest increase in training ‘in the history of the NHS’ and aims to boost numbers by a quarter. This positive move comes after a Telegraph investigation found that NHS staff shortages led to some student nurses being overworked.
Mr Hunt said: “The NHS will be looking after a million more over-75s in just a decade, so we need to jump-start nurse training.”
"We will also improve retention rates amongst our current workforce with new flexible working arrangements to be made available to all NHS staff, and a new right of first refusal for affordable housing built on NHS property.
"Combined with the 25 per cent increase in medical school places announced last year, this will transform the ability of our NHS to cope with the pressures ahead."
A positive outlook?
This creation of extra nursing places will bring the figure of undergraduate study opportunities to 25,850 in 2018/19; this is around a 15,000 increase on 2015 numbers.
Janet Davies, the Royal College of Nursing general secretary, said: “Significant increases to training numbers is welcome, we desperately need more nurses. However, they must be educated to the highest standards.”
“We are concerned at the risk of students plugging the gaps in the current workforce at the expense of quality patient care and their own learning experience.”
With the Government making active efforts to secure the future of nursing, it’s a great time to explore new opportunities within nursing, with many roles based in the Buckinghamshire area.
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