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Bursaries for student nurses and midwives in Wales extended until 2020

The Royal College of Nursing claims another single year extension is not enough.



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Students must commit to working in Wales for at least two years post qualification.

Student nurses and midwives in Wales will continue to receive NHS bursaries until 2020, the Welsh government has announced.

Ministers in Wales have announced the NHS Bursary will be offered to students starting nursing, midwifery and allied health professional courses in the 2020-21 academic year.


Students must commit to working in Wales for at least two years post qualification or face paying back up to £25,500 in tuition fees.

Student nurses in Northern Ireland and Scotland also still have access to bursaries, with the Scottish offering rising to £10,000 by 2020.

In England, the bursary was abolished for nursing students beginning their courses in 2017 and beyond.

Building a sustainable workforce.

Despite the announcement, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) claims another single year extension is not enough and has called on the Government for a funding commitment.

Helen Whyley, Director of the RCN in Wales, said: “The RCN welcomes this announcement. However, yet again we have a one-year extension to an essential funding stream for undergraduate nursing programmes, and it cannot continue indefinitely.

“The funding of nurse education in Wales is essential to building a sustainable workforce and filling the significant nurse vacancies across Wales. A bursary funding stream encourages and supports students from all socio-economic backgrounds to come to Wales to study.”

Helen added: “We know from the experience in England that removing an NHS bursary has seen the numbers of mature students coming into nursing fall dramatically. While there is currently a strong supply of applicants for student places at Welsh universities, with the lowest drop-out rate in the UK, we can’t make the most of this offer when it continues to be so short term.”

The number of student nurses is falling.

Since the abolition for the NHS Bursary, applications to study nursing in England have fallen by 30% since 2016, and more than 500 fewer students started nursing degrees last year.

Donna Kinnair, the RCN’s and General Secretary, said: “This is good news for prospective nursing students in Wales and will give more young people the confidence to enter our profession.

“The abolition of the bursary in England has failed to increase the numbers as intended, and the prospect of debt is deterring students from choosing nursing. As a result, applications to study nursing have fallen by 30 per cent since 2016, and over 500 fewer students started nursing degrees last year.

“It’s time for the government in England to commit to investing at least £1 billion into nurse higher education to help recruit, educate and retain the new generation of nurses we need to deliver safe and effective staffing across the health and care system.”

We need to go further.

Helen Rogers, Royal College of Midwives Director for Wales, said: “This is very welcome news. It will bring some financial certainty and stability for those intending to enter midwifery in that academic year.

“That the Welsh Government is not going down the same road as England, where bursaries have been scrapped, is to be applauded. It is vital for student midwives that the bursary is retained.

“Many student midwives already carry debt from a first degree and would not be able to train as a midwife without the bursary. Without the bursary we would almost certainly see a fall in applications to midwifery from those in lower income families and also mature students.

“This is a great move but we need to go further. I call on the Welsh Government to commit to keeping the bursary many years into the future. We need to be sending a message to younger people such as those in school thinking about future careers and choices. They need to know now that they can train as a midwife when they reach the right age, with a bursary to support them through it.”

Professional Regulation

NMC apologises after misleading Morecambe Bay investigators

Up to 19 babies and mothers died between 2004 and 2012 as a result of mistakes by staff.



nursing and midwifery council

The regulator has apologised over how it handled a Fitness to Practice investigation.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) has apologised over how it handled a Fitness to Practice (FtP) investigation following the tragic death of newborn Joshua Titcombe at Morecambe Bay.

The independent review by Verita was commissioned by the NMC after the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) raised concerns over how the regulator handled the fitness to practice investigation.


The report was initially commissioned by Jeremy Hunt, the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, after up to 19 babies and mothers died at the hospital between 2004 and 2012 as a result of mistakes by the staff of its maternity unit.

Jackie Smith, the former Chief Executive and Registrar of the NMC, resigned on the eve of the PSA report.

‘Incorrect and misleading statements’.

Investigators highlighted concerns over a chronology that was submitted as evidence by Joshua’s parents. They commented that they regulator failed to include the chronology in the evidence gathering process and also failed to “consider and understand the significance of this evidence and its relevance to a central issue in the case.”

The NMC then went on to make “incorrect and misleading statements” to Joshua’s parents, the PSA and the Secretary of State for Health about how it handled and reviewed the chronology.

Verita also commented that the regulator failed to treated witnesses “with the respect and sensitivity they deserved”.

Investigator on to recommend that the “NMC should make it a priority to ensure that it treats families and patients with respect and is honest and open with them” and “ensure that Panel Chairs are fully briefed about the importance of showing respect to bereaved relatives, perhaps by using this example as a case study.”

The total cost of Verita’s report was £151,742.22.

‘I am very sorry’.

Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, the current NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “Throughout these fitness to practise cases the way we treated Mr Titcombe and his family was unacceptable. Our actions made an awful situation much worse and I am very sorry for that. I am also very sorry that our communications with Mr Titcombe, the PSA and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care contained incorrect and misleading information about our handling of this evidence.”

“This investigation highlights a number of failings at the NMC at that time. We did not properly understand the significance of this important piece of evidence, in particular to Mr Titcombe and his family, and we did not put it before the panel when we should have done. This reflected a culture at the NMC at that time that prioritised process over people.”

“Since the events at Morecambe Bay we have made significant changes, including much improved record keeping, the introduction of a new public support service, and additional training for panel members to help them better understand the needs of witnesses.

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Hospital charity launches Christmas gift appeal for patients

Those wishing to help the campaign can buy a gift or donate online.



Send a smile

The Send a Smile with Santa campaign delivers presents to patients who are unable to celebrate Christmas at home.

A campaign to deliver more than 1,000 gifts for inpatients at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Christmas Day has begun.

The N&N Hospitals Charity’s Send a Smile with Santa campaign delivers presents donated by the public to patients, both young and old, who are unable to celebrate Christmas at home with their families.


Those wishing to help the campaign can choose an item from our Send a Smile with Santa list on Amazon or make a donation which will be used exclusively to purchase a gift.

Donations can also be dropped off by Sunday 8 December at the West Atrium Inpatient reception, Cromer Hospital, the Archant offices on Rouen Road, Norwich, and Greater Anglian Norwich Railway Station Customer Service.

The charity says that any donated presents should remain unwrapped so staff can ensure that presents are individually tailored for each patient, as well as protecting against potential infection.

‘Overwhelmed by kindness’.

Prof Nancy Fontaine, NNUH Chief Nurse, said: “We were overwhelmed by the kindness of people last year and we were able to deliver a lovely present to each of our patients.

“Nobody wants to spend time in hospital, and Christmas is so often a special time for people to be with family, and this is why we like to do something to make it a little nicer for our patients.

“We really hope that the people of Norfolk will once again support our appeal and help put a smile of the faces of our patients during the festive period.”

Louise Cook, Head of Fundraising at NNUH, added: “We know from our patients how lovely and unexpected it is to receive a gift on Christmas Day. They don’t need to be expensive gifts – toiletries, puzzle books, chocolates or socks are always greatly received.

“We have heard from people who would like to donate a gift but are unable to get out, so we this year we have an Amazon Wish List with small items which can be purchased and will be delivered directly to us, or a JustGiving page where a donation can be made and we will use that to purchase a gift for a patient.”

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