Bursaries for student nurses will be restored, two years after they were scrapped as part of Tory austerity measures.
Health bosses said a £5,000-a-year bursary will be available to new and continuing degree-level nursing, midwifery and some allied healthcare students from September 2020. With up to £3,000 further funding available for eligible students, including for specialist disciplines that struggle to recruit
Until 2017 nursing students undertaking their first degree received a bursary including tuition fees of up to £9,000 and a maintenance grant of £1,000, neither of which were means-tested.
It also included a means-tested maintenance grant of between £2,207, for those living at home, and £3,191, for students living away from home in London.
However, these were scrapped in favour of loans as part of Conservative austerity measures, which lead to a drop of 13,075 in applications for first-time nursing degrees, from 52,740 in 2016 to 39,665 in 2019.
The announcement comes ahead of the UCAS university application deadline of January 15 and is part of the government’s pledge to increase nurse numbers by 50,000 over the next 5 years.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: ‘I have heard loud and clear that the priority of the British people is to focus on the NHS – and to make sure this treasured institution has everything it needs to deliver world-class care.
‘Nurses epitomise everything that makes the NHS so revered across the world – skill, compassion, energy and dedication.
‘On the steps of Downing Street last week, I said we will deliver 50,000 more nurses, and this new financial support package is a crucial part of delivering this.
‘There can be no doubting our commitment to the NHS, and over the coming months we will bring forward further proposals to transform this great country.’
Dame Donna Kinnair, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing is calling for student nurses to be given tuition fee support. She said:
‘With tens of thousands of vacant nurse jobs in England, serious measures are needed and this grant is a first victory for the campaign that our student nurses are running.
‘This announcement will hopefully encourage more people to apply to a nursing degree by the mid-January deadline. However, the new maintenance grants must be enough to cover students’ actual living costs.
‘In the run up to the Budget, we continue to call for our students to be given tuition fee support too. Any barriers for people wanting to enter nursing must be removed.
‘The nurses at work today need to feel valued but also confident that the staffing shortages are being addressed with adequate investment.
‘The RCN is calling for at least £1 billion extra per year to be invested in nurse higher education as part of ensuring patients and the public can access safe and effective health and care services’.
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