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HEE chief explains potential impact of bursary cuts

Speaking at an event in London last week, Ian Cumming, chief executive of HEE, explained his views on the cut to nurse and allied health professionals' bursaries that was announced in the autumn budget.

In terms of the impact of fees, “of course there is a risk,” he said. “We have to recognise that in some of our professions some of the people who are training have already got a first degree, so we need conversations about how some of these people will access the Student Loans Company for a second degree.

“In mental health nursing and midwifery for example we have a very large percentage of people who join those degrees who've got a degree in something else. What I don't want to do is to put people off, because that's all part of the richness you gain from having people coming from a variety of different backgrounds.”

He also said that, if he's “being completely honest”, in some areas the impact of unrestricted training places “will be very positive”.

There will be more physiotherapists, he said, as it's got one of the highest ratios of applications to places of any degree that we currently offer in this country, including medicine.

The number of paediatric nurses is also expected to rise as “there's always more applications than training places”.  However, quite a lot of these people choose adult nursing as their second choice, Cumming explained, so once the training places are not limited there may be a decrease in adult nursing students.

“The government's intention in this is to open up the market and therefore create an additional 10,000 people coming into the workforce, our job is to make sure the NHS continues to get the workforce that it needs when its done in a very different way, with individuals accessing a loan.”