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Wednesday 24 May 2017 Instagram
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RCN: Scrapping bursary leading to nursing application drop

RCN: Scrapping bursary leading to nursing application drop

Scrapping the nursing bursary in England has led to a drop in applications for 2017, raising concerns for the workforce.
RCN: Scrapping bursary leading to nursing application drop

Scrapping the nursing bursary in England has led to a drop in applications for 2017, raising concerns for the workforce.

The RCN has expressed concern that the effects of Brexit and the ageing workforce will exacerbate the recruitment problem and make nursing unsustainable.

Nursing degree applications have fallen by 20% since the Government replaced bursaries with student loans, according to research by The Times.

The drop in applications for nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects is also twice that of other courses, according to the survey by the vice-chancellors’ body Universities UK.

The 2017 intake of student nurses will graduate in 2020, when the effects of the reduced applications on the workforce will be felt.

RCN advice “fell on deaf ears”

Janet Davies, RCN chief executive and general secretary, said: “The drastic fall in nursing applications that we warned would happen has happened.

“We have consistently raised concerns to the Government that their decision to charge fees to nursing students in England and replace NHS bursaries with student loans would result in this drop.

“Despite 100 years of nursing knowledge and expertise, our advice fell on deaf ears. The Government went ahead in gambling on the future of the nursing workforce.”

A “perfect storm”

Findings from the Institute of Employment Studies this week have shown what Brexit and the ageing nursing population will mean for the workforce.

Nearly one in three nurses will reach 60 and be due to retire over the next 10 years, according to the IES analysis.

Stephanie Aiken, RCN Deputy Director of Nursing, said: “This research chimes with our warnings about a perfect storm engulfing the NHS in the future, when the current nursing recruitment crisis risks reaching catastrophic proportions.

"It will give us no pleasure if we are proved right. With an ageing population, and more people living with multiple complex conditions, we will need more graduate, registered nurses than ever."

Referring to the drop in nursing applications she added: "Coupled with the effects of Brexit, this may become a double whammy for the nursing profession which could make NHS services nigh-on impossible to sustain.”


“The UK’s decision to leave the EU was unprecedented and unplanned for,” the IES report said.

“Whatever form Brexit eventually takes, it could well lead to a reduced supply of labour from the EU.”

The number of EU workers which nursing relies on could be reduced by the uncertainty around their ability to apply for UK jobs, those already here voluntarily leaving, or by the Government restricting their entry.

EU nurses currently make up 4.5% of the total nursing workforce in England. This has increased from just over 1% in 2009.

University response

In response to the drop in applications, university vice-chancellors are planning a campaign with health bodies to encourage more people to train as nurses.

The campaign will run well beyond the normal deadline for university course applications to encourage candidates to make late submissions or apply through clearing in the summer.


Well, is there anyone out there who actually belived that this government would actually listen to nurses, nursing managers or their representatives?

Who in their right minds would actually go into debt and PAY to work on the ward as a scivvy for 3 or 4 years whilst training? Because there is little time for tuition on a ward and it is generally 'all hands on deck.'

To have to pay to be taught how to be something that this country is so short of it relies on foreign staff for? Pay to do something so essential as bodily care for a patient? Unless someone has completely lost their marbles, they are not going to actually pay to wipe a strangers backside.

Potential student nurses, will have to pay back fees of up to £12,000 per year x3 or sometimes 4; and loans just so that they can actually survive, whilst also paying to work on the wards that they used to do for free anyway.
And the input from Universities is not so great to warrant an average £12,000 per year for a nursing course.

They will then graduate on a comparatively low wage with the prospect of having to work so many unsocial hours and overtime just to boost their pay to make a dent in the enormous millstone of debt around their necks, potentially £50k - which could be a good deposit on the bottom rung of the housing ladder.

DON'T do it! Its not worth it. You will end up resenting it as you will always feel tired with no social life. You will never be valued and within 3 years you will have a bad back, be worn out through lack of staff and jaded; and wish you had taken a different career path which would give you more reward and recognition. Many people do not realise - and employers do not recognise - that nurses are bright, well educated, and academically clever AS WELL as practical and caring. You should not have to pay for this to be recognised. They should be paying you!

This Government need a re-think, as this course of action will push the cost of essential NHS training onto nurses shoulders, who will never be rich. Thats if any potential nurse takes this ludicrous pathway.

This Government do not care because they are all millionaires, many several times over, and they can go private.

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