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Student nurse bursary to stay in Wales but conditional on work guarantee

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Ministers have repeated a commitment to continue giving student nurses in Wales a bursary next year, but with the condition that they work for at least two years in the county after qualifying.

But the government noted that long term arrangements for student nurses in Wales would be influenced by findings from a review of higher education funding by Sir Ian Diamond, which was published last month.

“It is important that any enhanced investment made in training is combined with a commitment to invest in Wales by those who benefit”

Vaughan Gething

Welsh health secretary Vaughan Gething today confirmed that NHS bursaries for eligible student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals will continue to be available in Wales in 2017-18.

Unlike in England where the bursary will end, those starting their training in September 2017, who choose to study an eligible health related programme, will be able to access the funding.

However, the bursary will be based upon individuals committing in advance to taking up the opportunity to work in Wales, post qualification, for a period of two years, said Mr Gething in a statement (see attached document below).

It echoes similar sentiments made by ministers in Scotland earlier in the year.

Mr Gething said: “I believe that to ensure we have the workforce we need, it is important that any enhanced investment made in training and development is combined with an opportunity to work in Wales and a commitment to invest in Wales by those who benefit.

“Longer term arrangements for student support for health related subjects will be considered alongside the recommendations arising from the independent review of higher education funding and student finance led by Professor Diamond,” he added.

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Vaughan Gething

“We’re taking positive action to attract more health professionals across the country and throughout the UK to come to Wales to train, work and live. We will continue to invest in the education and training of individuals wanting to work in the NHS,” said Mr Gething.

The Diamond report, published in November, recommended that government finances be targeted at student maintenance grants, at the expense of tuition fees.

It proposed a £1,000 non-means-tested maintenance grant be made available to all full-time Welsh undergraduates, together with an income-related maintenance grant.

However, it recommended that tuition fees should be paid for via a publicly supported loan system, up to a maximum of £9,000.

Responding to the announcement, the Royal College of Nursing said it welcomed the commitment that the bursary and student education fees would continue to be available in Wales in 2017-18.

Tina Donnelly, director RCN Wales, said: ”An investment in student nurses, midwives and allied health professionals is an investment in our future in health care in Wales.

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“This extremely positive news will encourage prospective nursing and midwifery students who will not have to take out loans to fund their education. Student nurses play an important part in the everyday operating of the NHS,” she said.

She added: “Moreover, the RCN is waiting to see the effects of abolishing the student bursary in England. We will be observing the variation in nursing student recruitment across the four countries of the UK.

“In the new year, the RCN in Wales will endeavour to provide further evidence to the National Assembly for Wales to support retaining funding for nursing and midwifery education in Wales,” said Ms Donnelly.

Helen Rogers, Royal College of Midwives director for Wales, said: “This is very welcome news that will bring stability, certainty and much needed financial support for those looking to train as midwives next year. I applaud the Welsh government for not going down the same road as England on this issue.

“It is vital for student midwives that the bursary is retained,” she said. “Around one in four student midwives already carry debt from a first degree and would not be able to train as a midwife without the bursary. It would also affect those from lower income families and nature students from entering the profession.

“I now urge the Welsh government to commit to ensuring that student midwives of the future see midwifery as an affordable career choice beyond 2017-18 to ensure the future supply of midwives for Wales,” she added.

 

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Sounds a fair proposal to retain the bursary, 2 years working to consolidate and learn is no hardship surely if done in Wales.

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  • I just despair at this government twiddling with nurse training by pushing all the cost of their fumbling onto future nurses who will be left with such a hefty debt on a comparable average wage.

    Why would anyone actually PAY to work on a ward, (because that is what it will mean in reality during training) often in the role of a skivvy running around with the comode, wiping bottoms, making beds, being an escort - as there is so little time for mentoring and learning as students are just considered as another pair of hands on a very busy understaffed ward.

    Any nurse who is left with the ENORMOUS debt of training as it stands in England, will be relying on overtime and unsocial payments to scrape by and survive.
    Remember - these loan people are exactly that - loan companies who act the same as any other loan company - and they will be hounding you until you are 60. They are not kind and understanding because they lent essential funds for nurse training. They will not understand that you are struggling to survive with children, running a car which is essential due to unsocial hours, unable to keep up with rent/mortgage etc etc; and they will not care that you are shouldering the blame by the media and the public for the majority of the ills of the NHS.
    They will just take you to court which will push your debt up even more. This has not happened to me, I am lucky enough to be nearing retirement; but I have seen many younger nurses buckle under the strain and leave nursing completely; and have known many who have gone abroad - and never intend to come back. Good for them.
    It is an absolute disgrace to treat such an essential part of the NHS with ambiguous disregard. Jeremy Hunt is a disgrace.
    Nurses who do not receive bursaries, (as it is in England) who have children, are single parents or part of a couple, especially those who live in large metropolitan regions with total lack of affordable housing - in fact any nurse who is able to - would be mad not to emigrate to Australia/NZ/US etc for better pay and conditions, more respect and a better work/life balance. I wish I did that years ago.

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  • What bursary? Only available for the selected few. I don't know anyone who has trained with a bursary. We live in England.

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  • "Anonymous10 December, 2016 1:39 pm

    What bursary? Only available for the selected few. I don't know anyone who has trained with a bursary. We live in England."

    You may live in England, but many UK students and qualified nurses do not - including the ones that are being discussed in the article - or indeed the many thousands that live in Scotland. They voted for a government that prioritised, rather than pilloried, their NHS.

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