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Why should we defend NHS Student Bursaries? #BursaryNotBust

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by NursingNotes.
Why should we defend NHS Student Bursaries? #BursaryNotBust

George Osborne apparently owns a stake in his father's fabric shop. You can read it on Wikipedia. It's quite romantic to think of young Gideon, playing amongst the exquisite textiles, maybe trimming a little off one part, his safety scissors in hand, severing the threads of an intricate ensemble. The little I know about textiles suggest that things can go awfully awry when you hack too much away from the material, not leaving you enough to fashion with. Public services are a little bit like that as well.

Recently the government announced that it was planning to cut NHS student bursaries. This is just one such slashing amongst the myriad; firefighter numbers down by 7000; the police losing £200 million; cuts to legal aid. This is not mentioning the fight about junior doctor contracts. One has to wonder exactly the kind of society George, and his friends, would like to see at the end of this decade. Safety nets that helped to catch the most vulnerable in society are being stripped bare. If you're rich you should make it through though. For those of us who work in the NHS, you sit close to the maelstrom of these colliding events. A muddled, older person leaves the gas on at home – she is blown up, goes to hospital and is treated, needs subsequent social care, whilst the family are involved in a wrangle over property with no free advice – at different points the support system fails. But each of us cannot see how the tapestry has fallen to pieces, each seam peeling away. We only work within our own fields of vision, and with our own experiences.


To turn more specifically to the case of NHS bursaries – I am highly suspect when the government claims to be doing anything to support nurses, or their clinical colleagues. Why would you make it so much more difficult for non-EU nurses to stay (making them leave after 6 years if they do not earn enough), whilst also cutting nurses' free education? Many of our present working nurses are nearing retirement: we may be short by some 47,500 in 2016. This is not a government that supports the NHS, but undermines it. The Letwin and Redwood book of austerity reigns supreme. It likes to claim spending is maintained. It likes to conflate a stimulus with a reduction in deficit. It is happy to try to keep the body looking somewhat presentable, whilst slightly damaging each of the organs.

The free bursary was mine, during my fairly recent student days, and like all nursing students I worked for it – in placements and with essays. I feel for those younger, and also those more mature, people who wish to train to be nurses in the future. I am not looking forward to mentoring them, despite wanting to take my mentorship course. I enjoy teaching. It is a vital part of a nurse's job. But attrition is already suspected to be around 50%. What a terrible waste of both of our efforts should they choose to drop out, unable to pay the bills. To put aside the discredited economic arguments for what the government are doing, it does not take an archbishop, or a moral philosopher to see their actions are morally reprehensible. When the UN show up on your doorstep to investigate your party's treatment of disabled people, you need to take a look at yourself in the antique, heirloom mirror.

On January 9th 2016 I will be marching alongside fellow student nurses and other allied health professionals.

If you want to join us meet at St. Thomas' hospital, London at 12.00pm

The plan is to help raise the public's awareness of the Tories' base treatment of trainee clinicians. I hope many doctors will also be there. I hope the whole thing will not fall on totally deaf ears. I hope primarily it will bring public sector workers together, and let them see how they are being stitched up. Whatever damage the present lot do, it is still reassuring to think they have five years only to do it in. The NHS, for all its present faults and failures, has lasted nearly 70 years. I have doubts that will be the same beast in 70 more. But there's fight in it yet.

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Nursing apprenticeships could put 'both patients and apprentices at risk'

Previous research found hospital-based apprentice training was unsafe and inefficient, and did not equip nurses with the necessary skills for the future.

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by James M.
Nursing apprenticeships could put 'both patients and apprentices at risk'

The Royal College of Nursing has warned MPs that the apprenticeship system risks putting both patients and apprentices at risk.

Speaking at the Education Select Committee, Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said there was clear evidence that trainee nurses should complete degree-based training - which is safer and more consistent than the old-style apprenticeships.

Evidence from the Judge Report and Project 2000, both carried out in the mid-1980s, found hospital-based apprentice training was unsafe and inefficient, and did not equip nurses with the necessary skills for the future. Under the old system, apprentices had to learn from an inadequate number of fully qualified registered nurses, which reduced both patients’ quality of care, and the quality of the training.


With more than 40,000 nurse vacancies in England alone, there are fears history could repeat itself with the new apprenticeship scheme.

The RCN claims that apprenticeships risk putting undue pressure on overstretched NHS services, as they place the responsibility for training staff on cash-strapped employers, instead of universities.

Apprentice levy does not cover the full cost of training.

Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, previously told the House of Commons Health & Care Select Committee that the cost was “probably something in the region of £125,000 to £155,000 over the four years of a nursing apprenticeship, and the levy will not capture all that cost.”

Nursing degree students fund their own studies and spend 50 per cent of their time in practice placements - where they can learn directly from experienced staff.

For apprenticeships to work as they must...

The Royal College of Nursing believe that the following steps should be taken to ensure apprenticeships works.

  • Ensure access to a variety of clinical placements across community, general practice, social care and acute settings to ensure nursing students have the necessary exposure and experience of working in different environments.
  • Ensure access to safe, effective and appropriate learning environments where nursing apprentices have protected time for learning and access to mentors and assessors. Currently, providers will struggle to meet this requirement due to the unprecedented pressure they are facing.
  • Protect the supernumerary status of nursing students. Any compromise to supernumerary status of nursing students would compromise patient safety as well undermine nursing students’ learning ability.
  • Ensure a robust quality assurance process is in place to make sure that patient and learner safety is guaranteed and that there is consistency is the skill, knowledge and abilities of all nursing graduates, whatever route they take into becoming a registered nurse.

We need to keep both students and patient safe.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said: “The big challenge we have is ensuring we’ve got a proper environment where students can be students and where patients can be kept safe.

“Many of the Directors of Nursing that we talk to feel the cost of training has just been transferred from the Government to employers, who are already overstretched.

“We are currently working in an environment where we have 40,000 registered nursing vacancies. These are the people who have to be the mentors and supervisors and their focus has to be providing safe care to their patients.

“It is not chance that we have the level of vacancies that we have. This was because of poor policy, and saving money in the past. Apprenticeships themselves will not fix this. We need a whole picture of where we need investment in nursing education.

“Before the introduction of the graduate fee, 41% of people on nursing degree programs were over the age of 25. We know the representation of people from local communities and ethnic minority backgrounds was better than the rest of the student population.

“We need to have incentives for people to be able to have a university education as well as people having the opportunity via an apprenticeship. Both models need investment not just one over another.”

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NMC launches new educational standards to 'shape the future of nursing'

Part of the changes includes the removal of the cap on the number of hours students can spend on simulation activities.

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by Ian Snug.
NMC launches new educational standards to 'shape the future of nursing'

Student nurses will start to train against the new standards from January 2019.

Last week the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) launched 'ambitious' new standards of proficiency that set out the skills and knowledge the next generation of nurses need.

Alongside the new proficiencies, the NMC has introduced a more modern and innovative approach to the way universities and their practise partners train nurses and midwives - the NMC claim these changes will allow greater independence of assessment, and greater innovation by placement providers.


The NMC has also removed its standards for medicines management and instead encourages employers to instigate rigorous medicines management procedures.

Unlimited simulation.

Finally, part of the changes includes the removal of the cap on the number of hours students can spend on simulation activities - despite concerns this could reduce the total amount of time student nurses could spend on placements.

The new standards represent two years’ work and have been developed alongside nurses - as well as students, educators, healthcare professionals, charities and patient groups from across the UK.

Jackie Smith, NMC Chief Executive and Registrar, said: “Our new standards represent a huge leap forward. They raise the bar for the next generation of nurses and not only match the demands of the role but the ambition of the profession. This is vital as in the coming years many thousands of new professionals will join our register, delivering care to millions of people.

“We’ve also overhauled the way universities train nurses and midwives. They’ll be given more flexibility to harness new ways of working and embrace technology so they can equip the nurses and midwives of tomorrow with the skills they need to deliver world class care for years to come.”

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Government 'puts final nail in the coffin' for NHS Bursaries

The vote to remove NHS bursaries passed by 273 to 199 and comes at a time when there is a shortage of 40,000 in England alone.

Published on

by Sarah J.
Government 'puts final nail in the coffin' for NHS Bursaries

The government has voted to remove the NHS student bursary for post-graduate students.

A debate took place yesterday after the Government announced plans to remove post-graduate nursing bursaries for students who hold already alternative degrees.

In 2015, the Government removed bursaries for undergraduate students.


The 'fast-track' two-year course is currently undertaken by around 1000 'mature' students every year and the change will, instead, see students rack up thousands of pounds of student loan debt - experts warn this will only further reduce nursing numbers.

The vote to remove NHS bursaries passed by 273 to 199 and comes at a time when there is a shortage of 40,000 in England alone and official UCAS figures show an exponential decrease in applicants.

Nursing leaders have warned that the ongoing, worsening shortage could lead to a repeat of the incident at Mid Staffs.

Failing the next generation of nurses.

Angela Rayner, Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, said: “The Government has badly failed the next generation of nurses today by forcing through further cuts to their support and burdening health students with yet more debt.

“Labour will continue to fight these regressive cuts at every step to make sure health students can get the support they need.”

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: “The Government’s decision to abolish NHS bursaries has led to a huge fall in numbers applying for these courses and will make the NHS staffing crisis even worse.

“Now Ministers are pushing ahead with further bursary cuts in the face of all evidence.

“By cutting bursaries for postgraduate students, the Tories’ vote tonight makes it even harder for people to train to work in the NHS.”

We need more Nurses. Not less.

Prior to the vote, Janet Davies, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The decision to remove undergraduate support resulted in a collapse in trainee applications. Ministers should think very carefully before risking a further drop at a time when our health and social care system is desperately short of nurses.

“This is the quickest way to train top-quality registered nurses and should be expanded, not cut off. The current shortage of nurses is jeopardising safe and effective patient care and the Government urgently needs to encourage more people to enter the profession.”

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