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DoH Confirms Student Nurses WILL Lose Their Bursaries

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The Department of Health have today ended the consultation on NHS Bursaries and confirmed that they are set to be withdrawn. 

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Following the consultation on reforms to the education funding for nursing, midwifery and allied health professional (AHP) students, the government has set out its plans withdraw the current bursary model and move towards student loans.

RELATED: A MEETING WITH JEREMY HUNT

The news, posted on the Department of Health website, sets out it’s clear plan to change from the current funding system and bring student healthcare professionals in line with other students despite the course structures being very different.

There is however an opportunity for additional funding. The government is planning the following action to support nursing, midwifery and AHP students complete their courses and enter the future health workforce:

  • support for childcare costs – there will be an additional payment of £1,000 each year for students with child dependents to reflect that students undertaking clinical placements may have higher childcare costs than the wider student population
  • travel and dual accommodation – we will provide healthcare students the £303 that they would have to pay upfront as an excess liable for student payment on the student loans system. The government will cover the cost of students who have to pay for secondary accommodation whilst attending clinical placements if the case for educational provision and value for money is demonstrated
  • postgraduate students – a bursary for tuition and maintenance will meet the full costs of the course for postgraduate students starting in 2017/18. This will be a transitional arrangement to secure the longer term workforce supply and the intention is for these courses to eventually fit the standard student funding model
  • exceptional hardship – we will work with experts such as the RCN to provide bursary payments in cases of exceptional hardship, where students meet eligibility requirements
  • dental hygiene and dental therapy – until a long-term funding solution is found for these subjects, the government will fund a capped number of dental hygiene and dental therapy students on the 2017/18 cohort on the same, non-repayable terms as under the current system
  • second undergraduate degrees – students who are planning to undertake nursing, midwifery and allied health professional subjects as a second degree will be able to access the standard student support system, on the same terms as students studying for a first degree.

We’ve put together an article listing the MYTHS and TRUTHS around the transition between NHS Student Bursaries and Student Loans.

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Health minister Philip Dunne said:

“Currently two thirds of people who apply to university to become a nurse are not offered a place – we are committed to plans which could create up to 10,000 training places for home-grown nurses, midwives and allied health professionals by the end of this parliament, with those in training getting around 25% more financial support while they study.

We’ve listened to feedback from the consultation and as a result will provide extra funding to help cover additional expenses like travel and more support for students with children. We will work with the RCN, hospitals and other partners in taking this forward.”

You can read the full consultation document here.

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Nurses don’t need bursaries – here are four reasons why

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Until 2017, students studying nursing in England received a bursary and paid no fees. The bursary was paid by the NHS and was a remnant of the days when nursing students were employed by the hospitals where they trained. By the end of the 1990s, all nursing education moved to universities, but the bursaries remained.

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The UK government’s decision to stop bursaries in England was met with protests, especially by the Royal College of Nursing. Proponents of the bursaries argued that it would exacerbate current nursing shortages. We need to attract more candidates, not drive them away, they argued, especially older women from lower socio-economic groups.

Only the bursary system did not solve nursing shortages and it was not flexible enough to respond to changing demands. When we needed more nursing students, the NHS did not necessarily have the funding to provide bursaries. Contracts between universities and the NHS had a cap on the numbers of nursing students funded.

I propose four reasons why bursaries for nursing students aren’t needed.

1. We can’t afford it and they don’t need them

The NHS can no longer afford the scheme, especially with the proposed expansions in the numbers of nursing students. Nursing students, along with other university students, have access to student loans that cover their tuition fees and provide them with a living allowance.

Nurses, almost uniquely, are virtually guaranteed a job on graduation and if they earn £24,000 annually – the middle of the lowest pay band for a staff nurse – they only need to repay £11 a week.

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2. Nursing students are not employees

It is often thought that nursing students are working as employees of the NHS while they are in hospital. They are not. They are “supernumerary”, which means they are not included in the workforce. This recognises that they are students and that they are there to learn. They may have less opportunity than other students to work and earn money to support themselves, but this is surely offset by almost guaranteed employment on graduation?

3. Nursing is not a vehicle for social engineering

Some worry that older women from lower socio-economic groups, those who have had families or are seeking a late or second career, will find it hard to study nursing. But are these concerns justified? The initial introduction of student loans did not reduce the numbers of applicants from lower socio-economic groups to university. Why should it affect nursing?

We need a nursing workforce that is diverse in gender, ethnicity and age. But someone entering nursing late may only work for a short time in the NHS. This is not good value for money if that money is being spent by the NHS.

Nursing and the NHS do not exist as vehicles for social engineering where everyone who ever wanted to be a nurse can become a nurse. Both nursing and the NHS exist to provide a service: patient care.

4. We’ll get the most motivated students

While bursaries were available, both nursing students and nursing lecturers reported that some students were only studying nursing for the bursary. They had no intention of entering nursing on graduation and, in fact, many nursing students never enter nursing.

With an end to bursaries and an end to the cap on numbers, we have a much more flexible system that can respond to the need for nurses. The issue remains the availability of places for nursing students in the NHS. But universities can now negotiate with any part of the NHS they wish – not just their local hospitals – and can pay the NHS for training places. This should provide the flexibility needed and an incentive to the NHS to provide, and even compete to provide, the best training places.


This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. The Conversation

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Students need to be involved in the vote on NHS pay

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Students should be included in the vote on the proposed NHS pay deal – because it directly affects their future.

In March the Government, alongside healthcare unions, announced ‘modernisation’ of the Agenda for Change pay structure and revealed a radical overhaul of both the structure and terms and conditions of the pay system.

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However, many have highlighted issues with the proposed pay deal.

The official recommendation from all unions, except the GMB, is that the deal should be accepted and unions are set to ballot their members later this month. But, only current NHS employees who are under an Agenda for Change contract will be included in the vote – this excludes the majority of healthcare students.

Student nurses alongside student radiographers, physiotherapists student and other allied healthcare professionals are the healthcare professionals of tomorrow and the proposed NHS pay deal will have a direct impact on their future.

As qualified professionals it is important we have our students on our side, students are united, numerous, have immense voting power and the ability to change the outcome of any vote.

Image: © Monkey Business

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The Royal College of Nursing has admitted it is ‘frustrating’ for those wanting to vote on their future, as currently, the only way for students to get involved is to ensure eligible members exercise their right to vote.

Katharine Youngs, Student RCN Trade Union Committee Member, said; “I know that not being able to vote in the consultation is very frustrating – especially if you know that you want to work in the NHS when you qualify.
 
“But the deal proposes changes to current NHS contracts of employment, and not future contracts, so we cannot vote on something that doesn’t apply to us right now, in the same way that RCN members in the independent sector won’t be able to vote.
 
“As student members, we can still get involved in the consultation by spreading the word about the deal in our universities, and help both fellow students and NHS staff in our placements to understand the benefits we will experience in the future.
 
“You can encourage those RCN members working in your NHS placements to take part in the online consultation when it opens on 23 April. You can also attend the pay events around the country to hear more about the deal and ask any questions as well as visiting the RCN website for full details of the deal.

But, Richard Betley, a Student Nurse and RCN Member, disagreed with the official stance and feels that students need to be actively involved; “As paying members of the RCN, students should be included in any votes which directly affect their future. The pay deal is structured over a 3 year period so any student currently studying nursing will qualify during this period.

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Student nurses to receive ‘political lobbying lessons’

The session is designed to equip students with practical skills and knowledge they can use to develop a good relationship with their local MP.

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Nursing students will learn how they can work with MPs to promote the nursing profession in a new training session organised by the RCN.

Members of the RCN’s student committee and student information officers – the RCN’s representatives in universities – will learn their way around the UK parliament and the government from the UK Parliament Outreach and Engagement Service.

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The session is designed to equip students with practical skills and knowledge they can use to develop a good relationship with their local MP.

The RCN’s public affairs team will talk through the college’s approach to engaging with parliamentarians, especially the crucial role members can play. The team will explain different tactics and approaches students can take as well as what they can ask MPs to do to show their support for nursing staff in their constituencies.

Janet Davies, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “To work effectively, any union must be able to engage MPs and ministers.

“We know our members make the most powerful advocates for the profession. When frontline nursing staff sit in front of parliamentarians, you can see they listen.

“It’s through the hard work of members that vital issues such as safe staffing, harassment and health policy reach the top of the agenda.

“When nursing faces challenges on every front, the RCN wants to make sure our advocates are fully-equipped.”

Charlotte Hall, chair of the students’ committee, said: “Student nurses represent the future of the profession. Learning to engage with MPs is vital if we are to effectively shape that future and ensure the best possible care for patients.

“With these skills, committee members and student reps will be able to help other nurses make their voices heard on behalf of the profession and patients.”

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