Britain  •  UNISON union

Student nurses on the march against bursary cuts

26 January 2016

In yet another fightback against Tory NHS cuts, over a thousand student nurses marched through central London on 9 January to protest at the loss of their bursaries. Having already scrapped the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and hiked tuition fees, the Tories now have student nurses in their sights.

Tuition fees for student nurses will be imposed from September 2017. New students on Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions pre-registration courses in England will have to take out loans for maintenance and tuition. Grants and bursaries will be slashed. But student nurses already work full-time for much of their training, so they will effectively be paying to work!

According to UNISON, 90 per cent of current nurses would not have been able to complete their training without a bursary. And while bursaries are not particularly well funded, they are at least a vital lifeline for those studying to work in the NHS. Their loss will be particularly devastating for students from working-class backgrounds, with this callous attack deterring many from choosing a career in the NHS, worsening the present crisis of understaffing.

The Tories claim that the funds released can then be spent on 10,000 new nursing jobs. This is disingenuous nonsense, since they have already cut funds and slashed jobs in the NHS. The reality is that it will be harder for people to train up to be a nurse. It will be impossible to fill up all the vacant posts.

No wonder that student nurses were chanting “Bursary or Bust” on the demonstration from St Thomas’ Hospital. And no wonder that there is a clear recognition that this is yet another attack on the NHS as a whole, with loud cries for nurses and doctors to unite.

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