£1bn needed for nursing higher education

A new campaign is calling for the government to prioritise funding for nursing higher education in England and get £1 billion a year back to stop the catastrophic fall in nurse numbers.

Led by Royal College of Nursing student members, the und Our Future campaign encourages student nurses across England to write to their MPs to raise awareness of the pressures they face and force the government to look again at how it funds student nurse education.
It aims to influence how extra funding for the NHS will be spent as a plan is drawn up for how services are prioritised over the next 10 years. This plan is expected to be published in December.

The call for a minimum of £1 billion a year to be put back into nursing higher education would help replace the funding lost when the bursary for nursing degrees was removed, and providing incentives to encourage people to study nursing.

Since the bursary was scrapped, applications to study nursing are down by a third and there have been 1,800 fewer people accepted onto nursing degree courses. Falling student numbers are also contributing to the growing number of nursing vacancies in England, which now stands at almost 42,000.

Dame Donna Kinnair, acting RCN chief executive, said: “The government’s policy to increase nursing student numbers by scrapping the bursary has failed. We now face falling student numbers at a time when nursing vacancies in England are expected to hit 48,000 in the next five years. Student nurses face unique challenges and increasing numbers are being forced to rely on hardship loans to make ends meet. This is on top of clinical placements where they are too often used to plug rota gaps instead of being supported to learn. It is time to rethink student education funding. Safe patient care depends on it.”

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