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RCN: Bursary cuts already negatively impacting nurses

There is already “clear evidence” that the government's decision to cut nursing students bursaries is having a negative impact on people who were considering a career in nursing, the chief of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said.

“Hundreds of current nursing students and those who were thinking about studying to be a nurse have contacted us to share their concerns, frustrations and dismay,” Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN stated.

The government's scheme will begin in 2017, and aims to enable the NHS to provide up to 10,000 extra training places, however Davies said they have “delivered a crushing blow” to future nurses.

The nursing expert revealed that the RCN wasn't consulted on the changes, and there is still uncertainty about how the system will actually work.

“What is certain is that anything that makes people worse off or deters them from becoming nurses, would be a big loss to our society,” she added.

The desperate need to “play catch up” and hire nurses now wouldn't have happened if the government “hadn't cut staffing levels and slashed student nurse places in the past,” she said, branding the policy “unjust”.

The government hopes the scheme will save the Department of Health around £800m in funding, that is currently used to support 60,000 student nurses in England through their three-year courses.

However, Davies concluded that the scheme will not even save money in the long run as “many will be unable to pay the loans back fully. This makes little financial sense.”