The Department of Health has confirmed that the student nurse bursary will be removed.
Following a twelve-week long consultation, and backlash from the nursing workforce, MPs and the Mayor of London, Government proposals to axe bursaries for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals have been confirmed.
The consultation outcome released today has said it would however give some tuition bursaries for a “capped number” of pre-registration postgraduate students from the 2017 academic year.
However, it clarified: “This will be a transitional arrangement to secure the longer term workforce supply and the intention is for these courses to eventually fit the standard student funding model.”
The consultation, which had 1,750 responses, also said the government had included “provisions” to ensure that healthcare higher education funding reforms are implemented “effectively and equitably”.
One of these provisions is an offering of £1,000 in additional funding for students with children to pay for childcare costs.
The government has also committed to paying for secondary accommodation for students while attending clinical placements if the student can demonstrate the case for “educational provision and value for money”.
The consultation also committed to working “with experts such as the RCN to provide bursary payments in cases of exceptional hardship, where students meet eligibility requirements”.
Nurses had previously raised concerns that the additional 10,000 training places promised as a result of removing the bursary could not be matched in clinical placements because of capacity.
However, Health Education England committed to only commissioning the minimum number of placements from August 2017, when the reforms are enacted.
From there, the report said universities could “create additional placements on top of those.”
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) said: “Trying to resolve the workforce problems of the past by putting the financial burden on the nurses of the future is unfair and risky.
“Whilst our members are extremely unhappy with this model, it is positive that the Government has listened to some of our concerns including the transitional bursaries for postgraduates and hardship funds, but there is still a worrying lack of clarity on clinical placements.
“Nurses will be dismayed that these plans will go ahead with no testing, despite the overwhelming concerns which they have consistently raised.
“The Government have committed to monitoring and evaluating the impact of these plans but they remain an untested gamble, and a risk to the future supply of nurses.
“Monitoring must be thorough, and concerns must be acted on immediately. Although there have been some answers today this remains a job half-done, and the RCN stands ready to work with the Government on the challenges ahead.”
Philip Dunne, health minister, added: “Currently two thirds of people who apply to university to become a nurse are not offered a place – we are committed to plans which could create up to 10,000 training places for home-grown nurses, midwives and allied health professionals by the end of this parliament, with those in training getting around 25% more financial support while they study.
We’ve listened to feedback from the consultation and as a result will provide extra funding to help cover additional expenses like travel and more support for students with children. We will work with the RCN, hospitals and other partners in taking this forward.”