Labour Research July 2016


Plans to abolish bursaries slammed as ‘short-sighted’

Unions, health workers and charities have come together to warn the government that its plans to abolish NHS bursaries and introduce student loans for those studying to become health professionals in England risks reducing the supply of vital health workers.

In an open letter, more than 20 health unions, charities and professional colleges warn that the plans are “a short-sighted attempt to solve a long-term and complicated problem”. The letter cites warnings from experts about the consequences of the move and urges prime minister David Cameron to fully consider their impact on patient care in England.

The letter comes on the back of demonstrations earlier in the month by hundreds of nurses and midwives protesting against the government’s plans. The Treasury has claimed that abolishing the grants, or bursaries, will allow many more nurses to be trained. However, union research has revealed the opposite to be true.

A Royal College of Nursing survey claims two-thirds of nurses wouldn’t have studied nursing without the bursaries, while analysis by London Economics for public services union UNISON and the NUS students’ union found that scrapping bursary funding will mean around 2,000 fewer people a year will study for a career in the NHS.

The unions warn that the changes — due to be introduced in September 2017 — will mean huge debts for those who do graduate, and a potential decrease in the number of health courses offered by universities.