Two thirds of nurses said they would not have gone into the profession if they had had to take out a full student loan and pay fees, a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) survey has found.
The results suggest that the Government’s proposals to scrap bursaries and force nursing students to pay tuition will deter thousands of new recruits during a staff shortage.
The survey, which polled 17,158 nurses, nurse educators and student nurses, also found that RCN members are strongly opposed to the plans with 89% either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the new plans.
Meanwhile, 79% believe the changes will have a negative impact on patient care.
Janet Davies, RCN chief executive, said: “The message from nurses is loud and clear: these proposals would reduce the supply of nursing staff and damage patient care.
“They represent a huge gamble with the future of the nursing workforce and the Government has not properly evaluated the many risks involved.”
The Government hopes that their new proposals will allow for a big increase in the number of student training places, but the RCN said it has not allocated any funding for the extra clinical placements and mentors required at hospitals.
However, 81% of nursing staff said they did not believe that registered nurses currently have the capacity to mentor more students.
Davies added: “Every extra training place needs a number of high quality clinical placements to give the student practical experience.
“The Government has not explained how these extra placements will be funded, and nurses are clearly saying that without extra funding the quality of mentoring will suffer.
“Nursing staff have shown how passionate they are about the future of the workforce, and thousands of RCN members have spoken out against these damaging plans.
“The Government must listen to these concerns and work with the RCN and others to identify a fair, effective and sustainable funding system for nursing education.”
RCN members marched from St Thomas’ Hospital to Downing Street on Saturday to protest against the plans.