Thursday, May 13News For London

Nurses to demonstrate their (non) bedside manner after cuts to bursaries

Politicians face yet another NHS headache as nurses and midwives plan on replicating junior doctors by marching across London.

Nurses demonstrating in Norwich last year. Credit: Roger Blackwell
Nurses demonstrating in Norwich last year. Credit: Roger Blackwell

George Osborne’s recent proposals to cut bursaries for student nurses and midwives has generated widespread anger among the nursing community.

Many nurses have expressed their concern about how this will impact the number of people applying to nursing courses.

The demonstration is being planned for 1200 on the 9th January in Central London.

Gary Markham, a nurse of 22 years experience, said: “I don’t know or care which political party brought in the bursary, but what I do know as an absolute certainty is that if it didn’t exist in 1993, I would not have been able to switch my career to nursing.”

MPs have joined with nurses to criticise Osborne’s new proposal. Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, and chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Students, said: “It beggars belief that at a time when we need more nurses and midwives than ever the Government is scrapping bursaries.

The Government are just shifting saving money at the expense of hard-working students by outsourcing the cost of their training on to the students themselves.”

Other politicians plan to take even more direct involvement in the protest, with Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, planning on attending.


Many hospitals across the country are struggling to adequately staff their wards. For example, Northwick Park Hospital and Central Middlesex Hospital, in north west London, have both failed to meet staffing targets in many wards for the last six months.

The intensive care department at Central Middlesex has been under 70 per cent staffing since April. At Northwick Park, departments across as varied specialities as midwifery, paediatrics and cancer care have also failed to meet targets.

Student bursaries are available to all students starting an NHS commissioned course. These include nursing, physiotherapy, radiotherapy and the later years of medicine and dentistry courses.

These bursaries are given to help students cover living costs.

An 18 year old studying nursing in London who has an older sibling at university, and a younger sibling still in school, would receive £6,567. They would also have their tuition fees paid for them.

The cuts to student bursaries come at a difficult time for the NHS. 160,000 days were lost to delayed discharge in October, an increase of 33 per cent over the same month five years ago.

Cuts to public health and social care has led to people spending an unnecessarily long time in hospital, according to the Nuffield Trust.

Nigel Edwards, chief executive of the influential health think-tank, said: “These statistics represent the frail and elderly, who have finished their medical treatment but can’t leave hospital because there isn’t enough support for them to go back to their own homes. That’s not surprising when £1.7 billion has been cut from local councils’ social care budgets since 2010”

“In addition to the human cost, these delayed transfers are fast becoming a big financial problem for the NHS – Monitor announced last month that they were a significant contributor to the £1.6 billion deficits Trusts in England have now accrued.”