The Blog

The Student Nurses Problem

As everyone saw in the recent budget George Osborne wants to cut costs in order to help the country pay off its debt. However one of his more interesting (I use the word interesting lightly) ideas is that the government will scrap the NHS bursary scheme. This will mean that those undertaking any courses like nursing or midwifery will now have to take out a student loan. A lot of people will think this is only fair, why should they not pay tuition when the rest of student are paying up to £9,000 a year. One of the issues to think about is that the NHS for many years before the recession had been understaffed. There are not enough nurses and midwives. Anybody who knows someone in the NHS in their family will know this all too well.

How are nurses meant to give the best care they are possible of when they are already working 13 hour shifts with either little or no break? This is a system that is already benefiting from the current NHS bursary and it is still being stretched. Now think about what is going to happen when they take away this bursary. There is going to be less nurses. Also removing the scheme is disregarding those from low income families who want to study nursing and now won't be able to.

One of the biggest issues in all of this is that the average age of a nursing student is 29, not fresh out of sixth form 18. This shows that NHS funded courses and taken up by people who will be doing the degree as their second. This means that they will now not be able to get any funding from Student Finance England. The result being that if these 29 year olds want to study they would either have to pay for the course themselves or take out a loan from the bank. This also means that for someone like me who is in their final year at university won't now be able to go back in Sept 2017 to study as there won't be any funding and I certainly won't have the money to pay for it myself.

It has been estimated that this cut will save the government £800 million a year. This money is enough to fund 60,000 student one academic year. But is this really a good move in the long run? Should the country not be supporting those who wanted to join and help in the NHS? There is the argument that at the moment for every 10 places at a university there are 20,000 applicants. Although the places will still be there, obviously the number of applicants will go down. However this could mean that people who would make fantastic nurses and midwives won't even get a chance.

It could be assumed that Universities are in favor of this new system. However, due to the way that NHS courses run they go on for more weeks than other courses. This means that the amount they get paid for each student if 8-12% less than it costs to put on the course throughout the year.

As a country, we cannot allow the government and Mr Osborne to decide to cut money from area's they simply do not understand. Maybe we should give him and Mr Hunt the opportunity to work a normal nurses evening shift in A&E on a Friday night. Maybe then they will understand the work that nurses who have been able to study due to the current scheme do. Not his private Doctors and Nurses. If they come out alive or their soul intact we will consider having a conversation with them.