Nurses are being urged to get their MPs to back a new early day motion tabled in parliament over the scrapping of bursaries for healthcare students.
The motion, launched by Labour MP for Mansfield Sir Alan Meale last week, states it is “alarmed” by government plans to replace bursaries for student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals with loans from next year.
It calls on the government to recognise student nurses have longer academic years than others at university and that half of their time is spent on unpaid clinical placements which leaves them with little time to earn extra money.
”Contacting your MP..is a good way of raising the profile of the issue and bringing attention to the impact of the proposed bursary cuts”
In addition, it highlighted the “dangerous” shortage of nurses and claimed the removal of bursaries would add further strain to the health and care system.
The government should listen to the Royal College of Nursing and 20 other healthcare trade unions, charities and professional colleges which have advised it to halt the plans, it said.
The motion is designed to raise awareness about concerns surrounding the proposal and could lead to further debate in the House of Commons. It has so far been signed by 12 MPs.
It follows a previous EDM in February which also called on the government to drop its plans to remove NHS bursaries and attracted the support of 156 MPs.
Unison is encouraging nurses, students and others who are concerned about the plans to ask their MPs to sign this latest EDM.
The union has claimed the proposals would leave students with debts of at least £51,000 and would exacerbate recruitment problems, putting patient and staff safety at risk.
“Contacting your MP about Unison’s campaign is a good way of raising the profile of the issue and bringing attention to the impact of the proposed bursary cuts on healthcare students,” said Unison head of nursing Gail Adams.
Plans to end free training for student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals from autumn 2017 were announced by chancellor George Osborne in November as part of the spending review.
The government said a switch to a loans system would allow universities to provide up to 10,000 extra training places by 2020 because they would no longer be restricted by funding.
The move – which means students will take out loans for both university fees and maintenance costs – will also mean trainees have access to around 25% more financial support for day-to-day expenses, according to the government.