The public believes that the government should continue to pay for the pre-registration training of student nurses and midwives, according to a survey carried out for a major union.
More than three-quarters (77%) of people who took part in the YouGov survey believe the government must carry on paying the tuition fees of student nurses, said Unison today.
“This poll clearly shows the public thinks the government should meet the cost of student nurses’ training”
In addition, 72% of survey respondents also said they wanted the government to continue funding the NHS bursary for nursing, midwifery and other health students.
The union commissioned the poll as part of its submission to the government’s consultation on plans to scrap the nursing bursary and tuition fees payment and replace them with a system of loans. Under current government proposals, the new system would come into operation from September 2017.
The government has claimed that removing the bursary will free up universities to run as many course places as they can fill, potentially leading to 10,000 additional nursing, midwifery and allied health training places by 2020.
But Unison, along with other unions, have argued that the plans will saddle future students with large debts and deter many from choosing a career in nursing or midwifery.
Unison said it had calculated that students graduating in 2020 could be saddled with debts of around £51,600, but would be going on to start work with a salary of under £23,000.
It also highlighted that 72% of survey respondents who voted Conservative in last year’s general election thought the government should pay tuition fees and 68% thought the bursary should be maintained, suggesting the government was not in tune with voters on the issue.
Survey respondents were also asked if they thought student nurses should be paid for the time they spent on placements, with 71% saying they thought they should.
A third of those who thought that student nurses should be paid for their placement time felt they should be paid the government’s national living wage – currently £7.20 an hour for anyone over the age of 25.
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Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “This poll clearly shows that the public thinks the government should meet the cost of student nurses’ training.
“These plans are ill-conceived and will deter nursing recruits, not attract them. We’re calling on ministers to pause the plans and think again,” she added.
Last week Unison was one of more than 20 unions, charities and colleges that wrote to the prime minister calling for a rethink of the plans to scrap the bursary and introduce student loans.
The YouGov survey was carried out online between 13-14 June 2016 and involved 1,656 adults weighted to be representative of the UK population.
- See PDF below for Unison’s complete submission to the government consultation.