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Scottish Government increases NHS bursary for student nurses

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced that the country will be increasing the bursary for students entering nursing undergraduate courses.

In a speech at the SNP annual conference, Ms Sturgeon declared that Scotland will increase the bursary to £8,100 from 2019 for all student nurses.

This will then increase to £10,000 per year for all student nurses from 2020.

Speaking to delegates at the conference, she said: ‘In England, the number of trainee nurses has fallen dramatically as a result of the decision to scrap the student nurse bursary. In Scotland, we retained the bursary, but recruitment is a big challenge. And it will get even bigger as Brexit bites.

‘So we need to attract more people into nursing. That is why I am announcing today a three stage plan to increase the support we provide. From next year, the payment for all student nurses – care experienced or not - will rise to £8,100 a year. And then from the year after, every student nurse will get a bursary of £10,000 a year.’

She added: ‘We know the value of our nurses. We know the value of our NHS. And to anyone from across the UK attracted to a career in nursing, our message is simple. Come to Scotland.’

The current nurse bursary in Scotland is worth £6,578 per year, a value that it has held since 2009.

The announcement was welcomed by the Royal College of Nursing in Scotland, who believe it will help make nursing ‘an attractive career’.

Theresa Fyffe, director of RCN Scotland, said: ‘The RCN has been fighting for fairer funding for student nurses and midwives. The Scottish Government has listened to those calls and has responded with a bursary which will truly support students while they study.

‘The increased bursary is an important step in valuing those who choose to nurse and in making nursing an attractive career.

‘The RCN will continue to work with the Scottish Government on staffing challenges so that nurses feel valued and listened to throughout their career. Today’s announcement is a clear and welcome indication from the Scottish Government that they are listening to the needs of nursing.’

In England, the nursing bursary was scrapped in 2016, with students no longer able to receive the financial package from August 2017.

The Scottish Government's offer of a 9% pay rise over three years was accepted by unions in June, and is the biggest percentage increase in the UK. England and Wales have both agreed largely similar deals, which will see rises of around 6.5% over three years.