Student nurse numbers plummet again

Student nurses demanding bursaries are restored – the number of applicants is down 10%
Student nurses demanding bursaries are restored – the number of applicants is down 10%

THE TORIES axing of the student nurses and midwives bursary has caused numbers applying to plummet even further, this time by 10%, meaning that overall figures have dropped by as much as a third since 2016!

The nursing union RCN has called for the bursary to be restored, as it says scrapping the bursary makes the staffing crisis in the NHS worse, which in turn threatens patient care. The bursary covered student nurses and midwives tuition fees and went some way to helping with accommodation and living expenses.

Now students wanting to work in the NHS end up, on graduation, with over £50,000 worth of debt.

The number of applications to university nursing courses in England has fallen by 5,000 students from the same point last year, the admissions service UCAS revealed yesterday. Numbers applying to begin training in September 2018 have fallen by 4,970 (14 per cent) compared to the 2017 cycle and by a third since 2016, the last year students got a bursary.

Seven hundred fewer students began training in September 2017 after changes to student funding and today’s application data suggests a second fall can be expected in September 2018 unless action is taken.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘The continued failure of ministers to get a grip on the nurse training situation will jeopardise care for patients. ‘The government may have agreed to increase starting salaries for nurses but, in isolation, that will not be enough to bring in the tens of thousands more we need. More incentives are needed to make it as attractive as possible. ‘Extra university places are only worthwhile if they are filled and the NHS gets a newly trained nurse at the end. The government knows patients can pay a highest price when there aren’t enough nurses.

‘Ministers must redouble efforts to get students into nursing courses in September this year. Across the board, nursing students must be encouraged and supported – the government should resolve the loans fiasco and abandon its latest bursary plans.’