Emergency funding is needed to boost student nurse numbers in England, says RCN

£1 billion is needed annually to ensure financial support for nursing students, including living costs and tuition.

Kizzy Bass
6 December 2019

The crisis in staffing cannot be resolved without reversing the decline in the numbers.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has called for emergency funding for nursing students in England in the next Government’s first budget.

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Union leaders warn, whoever is elected on the 12th of December, needs to act within a five-week window to turn around the current downturn in student nurse applications.

Dame Donna Kinnair, the RCN’s Chief Executive and General Secretary, has written an open letter to all the party leaders arguing that every pledge to increase the number of registered nurses will be best served by immediately attracting more students to begin their education within the next 12 months.

The letter also states that the next Government must announce an emergency funding package in its first budget to help to attract more students to nursing degrees in England next September.

This follows the release of figures last week showing that applications to study nursing in England have dropped 25 per cent, or 13,000 since the bursary for nursing students’ tuition fees and living costs was cut in 2015.

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Changing the status quo.

With one in every eight posts throughout the NHS in England vacant – the College points out in its letter to leaders that the crisis in staffing cannot be resolved without reversing the decline in the numbers taking nursing degrees.

Dame Donna Kinnair’s letter points out: “Reforms to the funding model in England of nursing higher education have failed to generate growth in student numbers. This imminent deadline offers a clear opportunity to change the status quo.

“In England, Government investment must be at least £1bn annually into financial support for nursing students, including living costs and tuition.

“Pledges to increase the number of registered nurses are best served by seizing this window to immediately attract more students to begin their education”.

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“Any new government must take decisive action within the first five weeks have a fighting chance of beginning to end nursing shortages across the UK”.

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