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NHS bursaries

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11 January 2016
Student nurses march Nursing staff work long hours, often in difficult circumstances, and they take a direct role in caring for patients when they are at their most vulnerable. They deserve our respect, admiration and support.

It is absolutely crucial that the Government does not put people off pursuing a career in nursing. This is why I am so disappointed that in his recent Spending Review the Chancellor announced that, from September 2017, NHS bursaries for training nurses, midwives and Allied Health Professionals will be abolished and replaced with student loans.

The Government is taking a huge gamble with the future of the NHS workforce and patient safety. There is already a shortage of nurses in the NHS and scrapping bursaries risks making the recruitment and retention of staff even harder.

Student nurses aren’t like other students – they are required to work in clinical practice throughout their degrees – and they deserve to be treated differently.

This is a political decision, motivated by short-term financial savings. Nurses and midwives shouldn’t be saddled with a lifetime of debt to pay for this Government’s financial mismanagement of the NHS.

In my role as Shadow Secretary of State for Health I have been calling on the Government to drop their plans and launch a full consultation on how to both improve the support available to nursing students, and increase the number of nurses in the NHS.

This week I spoke in a Parliamentary debate which was held as a result of an e-petition to the Government which gained over 150,000 signatures (no mean feat!). In the debate I made clear to the Minister that the Labour Party will oppose their plans every step of the way.

You can read my speech in full here.

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