The Government has recently delivered a crushing blow to future nursing students in this region by removing their bursaries – the vital financial support that helps many to complete their studies and go on to be the nurses of the future.
Without this essential support, many of us who are currently studying to enter this wonderful profession would not have been able to fulfil our dreams of becoming a nurse and we are worried about what this move means for the future of the NHS, our future colleagues and above all, patient care.
Student nurses are not like other students.
Half our time is spent doing clinical work and our academic year is longer, giving us fewer opportunities to earn money in our spare time.
We also tend to be older, many with families to support while completing our studies.
Taking away these grants and replacing them with hefty loans will only pile on more personal financial pressure to an already overstretched part of the health care workforce.
Not only that but many may never be able to pay back the loans, which will not save any money in the long run and makes little financial sense.
Student nurses are the profession’s future and their relationship with the NHS is critical.
But this decision risks severing the critical link between the NHS and nursing students and in doing so the Government is effectively absolving itself of any responsibility to ensure that the right numbers of nurses are in the right place and with the right skills.
With this move, they are also throwing student nurse training open to the market and this is very concerning.
We are disappointed that the Royal College of Nursing, with its long track record in nurse education, was not consulted on these plans and hope that we are allowed to work with the Government on a solution that looks at these very real risks and concerns and finds ways to mitigate them.
The future of nursing must be protected.
Our patients deserve nothing less.
Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Student Committee member, Yorkshire and the Humber Region