Parliamentary Briefing

The future of NHS bursaries and staff recruitment

04 May 2016

Heidi Alexander MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, has called an Opposition Day Debate on the Government’s plans to replace NHS bursaries with student loans for student nurses, midwives and other allied health professionals. The debate will take place today (4th May) and will be based on a cross-party motion signed by 139 MPs from all major parties.

In the 2015 Autumn Statement (25 November), the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the Government intended to replace NHS bursaries with student loans for new students commencing courses in nursing, midwifery and allied health subjects with effect from the 2017-18 academic year. The government bases its rationale for these changes on six central premises:

  • the benefits of the 2012 HE funding system which it says have been ‘proved comprehensively correct’
  • the potential for universities to create up to 10,000 more nursing, midwifery and allied health degree places during the current Parliament (i.e. by 2020)
  • the associated benefits to the NHS of a larger pool of ‘highly qualified home grown’ staff
  • widening access to nursing through increased living cost support
  • the creation of a system that ‘enables universities to invest in health higher education for the long term by increasing their income for teaching costs and giving them security on the number of places’
  • savings to the taxpayer as a result of the reduction in costs associated with the payment and administration of NHS bursaries

MillionPlus believes there are a number of key questions regarding many of these assumptions that the government need to answer before moving forward with their plans.

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