Nearly half of student midwives have considered leaving their courses due to financial pressures and debt, a new survey has revealed.
The survey, published today (24 September) by the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), found that 93% of student midwives in England who receive extra financial support and say it is not enough to live on.
It also revealed that student midwives are £409 short for bills and take £562 from friends or family to cover living costs each month on average.
But half of student midwives who apply for a grant to help with childcare have their application rejected.
Putting off potential students?
Gill Walton, general secretary and chief executive of the RCM, said that student midwife members ‘worry so much about money and debt that it is affecting their studies’.
The ‘current system and the removal of the bursary is making student midwives think about leaving before they have even began their midwifery careers,’ she added.
The RCM is repeating calls for the bursary to be reinstated as it is concerned that potential students may be deterred from considering midwifery as a career.
‘This is particularly worrying given the large shortage of midwives in England and sits at odds with the Government’s commitment to bring 3,000 more midwives into the NHS,’ Ms Walton cautioned.
‘Unjust and frankly just wrong’
Student midwives graduate with £41,000 of debt on average, while some have debts totalling £100,000, the survey found.
‘To burden student midwives with large amounts of debt that they will struggle to pay with a modest NHS salary is unjust and frankly just wrong,’ Ms Walton said.
She continued: ‘The Government should be doing all it can to ensure that NHS maternity services right across the UK are future-proofed, ensuring there are enough midwives to deliver safe high-quality care to women and their babies.’
The RCM quizzed 1,197 student midwife members on their current financial situation, debt and the impact of the removal of the student midwifery bursary in England.
In 2018, the College called for the Government to reinstate bursaries as Scotland announced an increase.