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Increase workforce with limits on student nurse funding, think-tank urges

Student nurses shouldn't get funding unless they stay in the NHS after graduating, a healthcare think-tank has recommended.

The ultimate aim behind this idea, proposed by educational think-tank Civitas, is to stop government-imposed limits on the number of people who can train as a nurse in England.

The report, Supplying the Demand for Nurses, says that presently there are far more applicants than there are training places, and the increased number of nursing graduates would reduce the NHS's current dependency on overseas-trained and agency nurses.

It reads: “Government-imposed limits on the number of people who can train as nurses should be brought to an end. The NHS should no longer meet the full cost of nurse training out of annual budgets; instead prospective nurses should be able to obtain student loans.

“On successful completion of their courses, these loans could be repaid on their behalf by Health Education England (HEE) when nurses continue work for the NHS after graduating. University course admission numbers are not usually limited and it seems unfair to do so for nursing degrees.”

This proposed transfer of educational funding from NHS annual budgets to the student loan system could save a maximum of £685 million annually, the think-tank predicted, and said was “urgently needed to help the NHS cope with rising demand.”