Students in ‘shortage specialisms’ such as mental health and learning disability nursing will receive an extra £1,000 each year they are at university, the Government confirmed yesterday (20 January).
It also released details of further payments to cover childcare costs and for students in regions ‘struggling to recruit’ – meaning eligible students could receive extra payments worth up to £3,000.
From September 2020, the funding will be available on top of the £5,000 annual maintenance grant announced in December last year.
The extra cash to cover living costs was initially announced only for nursing, midwifery and many allied health professional students.
However, ministers have now said that paramedic students will also receive the grant, the first time they will benefit from additional NHS funding at university.
Other courses set to benefit include dietetics, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
The pledge comes as part of the Government’s manifesto commitment to increase nurse numbers by 50,000 by 2025, which includes plans for an extra 14,000 undergraduate and postgraduate nurses.
Care minister Caroline Dinenage said more learning disability nurses will be needed ‘in the years to come’.
‘The expertise of learning disability nurses is essential as they provide tailored care that can help people become more independent,’ she added.
‘I want to see more people considering a career in learning disability nursing, helping to achieve our NHS Long Term Plan ambition to improve care for people with learning disabilities.’
Royal College of Nursing director for England Mike Adams said that mental health and learning disability nursing ‘have seen their numbers particularly hit since the removal of the bursary’ in 2017.
The additional funding is a ‘recognition of that’ but ‘falls short of the overall funding package that is needed to combat the wider nursing workforce crisis,’ he added.
He continued: ‘We will only see safe and effective care for all patients once all nursing vacancies are filled and there is a sustained pipeline of new nursing graduates. This is why all financial barriers to studying nursing at degree level must be removed.
‘With the Chancellor preparing to deliver his Budget next month I would urge him to provide full tuition fee support for all students and increase maintenance support to be reflective of actual student need. Only then will we begin to see the much needed increase in the number of nurses.’