The UK’s leading nursing magazines have joined together in an effort to prompt a full review of the Government’s decision to scrap bursaries for student nurses.
In an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May, rival magazines, Nursing in Practice, Nursing Times and Nursing Standard, have asked May to “think again” about forcing nursing students to take out a loan to cover their costs.
The last Government proposed to remove the Health Education England (HEE) bursary for pre-registration nursing students to, in part, make the funding between nursing and medial students equal.
The letter notes May’s pledge, in her first speech as Prime Minister, “to establish a fairer country that works for everyone and not just the ‘privileged few’.”
However, the bursary reforms, which effect midwifery and allied health professional students as well, could see students amass up to £50,000 in debt with an annual salary after leaving university of just £22,000 on average.
The letter says: “Saddling graduate nurses with university debt will badly affect the number of students who wish to take up this vocation.
“Students with children will be disproportionately affected as will those from less privileged backgrounds.”
Combined with the “great uncertainty” surrounding the future of EU nurses working the UK, the letter concludes that the NHS “will no longer have a nursing profession that reflects the patients they serve.”
Angela Sharda, deputy editor of Nursing in Practice, said: “In this letter, we have tried to explain why scrapping bursaries is a bad idea and what effect the decision will have on nurses.
“The nursing workforce is an important part of our NHS and it is a real shame that nursing bursaries have been cut – it will leave a negative impact on the industry.
“The decision to leave the EU has left uncertainty on the future of our NHS, but removing nurses’ bursaries will have a major impact on nurses financially.
“Usually, we stand as three rival publications but in this instance we have decided to stand together and address the matter to the Prime Minister.
“We hope that we will get a chance to speak with Theresa May to revaluate the Government’s decision on cutting bursaries.”