Trainee nurses are gearing up to stage a mass protest against the government’s 2017 decision to scrap NHS bursaries.
Scheduled for 9th January 2016, the protest march aims at putting pressure on authorities to rethink their plan to replace bursaries with student loans come September 2017.
The announcement came as part of Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn statement last month. He stated that in 2017, the NHS bursaries currently being paid to trainee nurses will be converted into loans that students would need to repay once they start formally earning from practice.
Among the recommended changes is also a fee restructure, which would require student nurses to cough up an annual tuition fee of £9000. This will be a first for trainee nurses, and it could amount to £50,000 in debts by the time they leave college and enter the professional world.
Danielle Jade, student nurse at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust is spearheading the 9th January protest. She spoke to us about this earlier this afternoon about how this will affect students like her, and what she hopes the outcome of the march will be:
Ms. Jade and her team are leveraging social media to gather support for the cause.
— NHSBursaryCutsForum (@NHSbursarycuts) December 10, 2015
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) is also encouraging trainee nurses and students to speak out. It has created an online platform to connect nurses and the general public with their MPs in order to express their views on the matter.
Janet Davies, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary said today in a press release: “Replacing bursaries with hefty loans will pile on more financial pressure to an already overstretched part of our health care workforce. And it’s not even as if money will be saved in the long run as many will be unable to pay the loans back fully. This makes little financial sense.”
With regard to the impact this will have on the future of the industry, Ms. Davies further added that, “There is already clear evidence that the Government’s decision is having a negative impact on those who have been thinking about a career in nursing.”
She said: “Hundreds of current nursing students and those who were thinking about studying to be a nurse have contacted us to share their concerns, frustrations and dismay.”
An online petition, “Keep the NHS Bursary” already has over 140,000 signatures, and will be debated in parliament on 11th January 2016.
Chancellor George Osborne has stated however, that the move would result in annual savings of close to £1.2 billion, and will help in funding over 10,000 more trainee placements.