The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called the Government’s changes to student funding arrangements an “unprecedented gamble”.
Calling for the plans to be suspended, the RCN says that key stakeholders must be brought together to explore models of funding for the immediate and long term.
Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said:“Nursing students spend 50% of their time on clinical placements, and it remains unclear how these will be funded.
“Students must be well supported on those placements, with experienced supervision and mentorship to promote high quality care.
“The evidence is now overwhelming, these proposals represent an unprecedented gamble on the future of nursing, which is already under threat.
“The RCN is concerned about the worrying lack of clarity or consultation about the effect that funding changes could have on those who need to train for more advanced or specialist roles, such as health visitors or district nurses.
“The Government must suspend the plans, listen to stakeholders and the profession and come up with a properly thought through and piloted proposal to encourage people to train for this vital profession.”
Her comments follow a survey earlier this month that found two thirds of 17,000 nurses, nurse educators, nursing assistants and nursing students would not have studied nursing under the proposed arrangements.
This proportion rises to 85% for those aged over 26 when studying. The average age of a student nurse is 29.
Davies added: “There has been huge uncertainty and profound doubt about how these proposals would maintain the supply of nurses we have now, let alone deliver the increases we need in the future.
“The added uncertainty caused by moves to leave the EU mean that risks have never been higher, and we urge the Government to suspend the plans immediately.
“For some years the NHS has been over-reliant on nurses from overseas, meaning that a move to train enough nurses here in the UK is long overdue.
“However, there is no evidence the proposed moves will help – indeed, they are likely to worsen a situation which is already unsustainable.”
The NHS is already facing a major crisis in its long-term recruitment of staff and additional uncertainty in the light of the UK’s exit from the European Union.