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Student nurse bursary removal represents ‘uncharted territory’, says CNO


The chief nursing officer for England has acknowledged that replacing student nurse bursaries with a system of loans represents a potential risk as well as a possible benefit for the nursing workforce.

Jane Cummings will touch on the issue in a speech today in which she will highlight the “many” changes currently affecting the nursing workforce, including the planned introduction of the nursing associate role and pressure on services to be more efficient while coping with increased demand.

“We need to be mindful of the potential risks as well as the potential benefits”

Jane Cummings

Professor Cummings will use her address to an NHS England innovation conference in Manchester to call on nurses and midwives to “help make the case for the change they want to see”.

Setting out the challenges and opportunities facing the profession, the CNO will urge nursing and midwifery staff to engage in a debate about the shape of the workforce for the future.

Speaking at the Health and Care Innovation Expo 2016, she will say: “The world is changing and as a profession we need to respond in the right way, by taking responsibility and the lead to ensure we can meet the challenges we face.

“We should make a case for the change we want to see”

Jane Cummings

She will add: “Money is tight, so we need to find ways of being more efficient while improving services. This is tough, but as the largest group of healthcare professionals we should take the lead.

“It is those on the frontline who know where those efficiencies are, how to reduce wasted time, share and adopt good practice and work with the public to explain and agree complex changes,” she will say. “We should make a case for the change we want to see.”

The CNO will also tell delegates the current model of NHS care “is in many ways outdated”, and “every emergency department nurse, community or practice nurse in the country will tell you that”.

“I am determined to ensure our professions have a seat at the table as we tackle the challenges ahead,” she will say. “The nursing and midwifery professions have a vital role to help shape an NHS and care system for the future and their voices must be heard.

“The sheer size and reach of the [nursing] workforce gives us huge scope to shape and manage future changes,” she will add.

The speech is significant in that it will also represent the first time the CNO has directly tackled the forthcoming removal of the bursary or the introduction of nursing associates in a major speech.

She will say: “Over the last year there have been many announcements on changes to the way we work – revalidation, a new nursing support role, changes to the bursary system and others.

“There is so much happening it can be difficult for people to see how it all fits together and why, but we need to go beyond the immediate headlines and see the big picture,” the CNO will say.

NHS England

Bursary removal is ‘uncharted territory’, says CNO

Jane Cummings at Health and Care Innovation Expo 2016

“Although the number of nurses in the NHS has been steadily increasing, it is clear that further work needs to be done, that demand continues to grow, there are challenges recruiting and retaining staff in some areas and that there are no simple answers,” she will say.

“Questions have been asked about the impact the planned changes to the bursary system may have – this is uncharted territory and we need to be mindful of the potential risks as well as the potential benefits the removal of the cap on training places could bring,” she will tell delegates.

The CNO will also use the speech to prioritise the need to improve opportunities for nurses in senior NHS roles, noting the “clear target” to achieve gender-balanced trust boards by 2020.

“There are increasing opportunities for all nurses and midwives to progress in leadership roles, but we need to nurture talent early to support our next generation of leaders,” she will say.

“Developing leaders at all levels is one of my priorities as CNO – the potential in our workforce to manage the challenges of today and shape the future should not be underestimated,” she will add.

In May, the CNO launched a new nursing framework, Leading Change, Adding Value, as a successor to the previous national nursing strategy Compassion in Practice.

The framework encouraged all nursing and midwifery staff to take a leading role in reducing unwarranted variation in the prevention of ill-health and the quality and efficiency of care.

The theme of the 2016 Health and Care Innovation Expo is innovation and technology in the heath sector, and its role in the delivery of the Five Year Forward View, NHS England’s five-year plan for the health service.


Readers' comments (8)

  • If the government has not listened on the issue of bursaries - why should people trust that anything else the workforce has to say will be listened to. People will have no confidence at all that voices will be heard. Nearly everyone and his son has asked for the bursary not to be removed - and that's in addition to the workforce.
    Ask students if they want the bursary removed - they're the future of the service. Great start to anyone wanting to get into nursing next year by putting them in potentially 50k+ worth of debt and then expect them to engage in meaningful debate about the future.

    I was supposed to go to Uni this year but because of a short illness and caring responsibilities for my mum, I couldn't apply in time. That's cost me a 'free' Uni place and potentially a change of career because I missed the boat for this September. Im a little better to say the least.

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  • oops - above comment should've said 'a little bitter' not better...!

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  • What a load of rubbish, Jane Cummings nobody believes you. Efficiency and waste you mean overworking staff to you class them as such and fall into the blatant plan to break the NHS. Its all about patient quality and safety but nevermind the staff no wonder so many are leaving. What utter tripe and drivel but hey nobody listens to fhe frontline not even the managment union RCN. I hear so many stories now of BS RPIWs and lean leaving wards bare and staff numbers so low its embarrassing. Well done Jane no staff, no mentors no students and then privitisation. I hope labour get in and bring all the corrupt right wing greedy senior nursing establishment and CEOs to justice.

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  • Failing to see how there can be any benefits to removal of the bursary. Nursing is hugely understaffed so providing mentors to potentially increasing numbers of students would not be possible. Forget a five year plan as the nhs will not exist in it"s current form by then. Do not waste your money training to be a nurse.

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  • We need senior nurses to defend the profession now more than ever and JC has missed a massive opportunity to do so. Hugely disappointing!

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  • Having been in the care sector for many years, last year I decided to get myself a nursing qualification and be a professional. My kids have grown and are approaching the runway, so to say. Sadly illness prevented me from following my dream(temporarily). Too late, there is no way on this once green earth that I could afford to take it up now. No way am I willing to pile up debt upon debt, utterly wrecking the possible future I hoped for. Sorry nursing profession, you're just going to dwindle away into obscurity because our greedy and corrupt government can't think of any other way to make more money for its sponsors and masters! So sad to think how many people will turn away from the opportunity to better themselves and make a good life in nursing.

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  • Jane Cummings, you do know the Tories are in power, and this is part of their ideological wet dream, don't you?

    Please tell me you are, at some point in the future, going to stand up and fight for the corner of nursing in this country. Daft statements like: “Money is tight, so we need to find ways of being more efficient while improving services". Saddling nurses with years of debt repayment on qualifying is not a way of being more efficient.

    This really is about choices, as a percentage of GDP we spend less on healthcare than any other western economy.

    I am a young nurse and remember the NHS justifying my pay as the lowest paid graduate public servant by saying that we had a great pension. That has been ripped up. Twice. And now you are trying to justify the idea of nurses paying for their education.

    Take. Take. Take. The ideology of a Tory.

    Nursing is conditioned to put ourselves at the end of the our needs list. Tories are taking advantage of this.

    It must stop.

    The NHS is a wonderful thing. The Tories must stop raping those professions who contribute to it the most.

    Just because the Tories dance to their tune, doesn't mean you have to.

    We have precious little standing up for nursing. This really isn't a debate. It's a daft Tory idea from a man who is in print stating his belief that the NHS doesn't exist.

    Please, wake up and smell the coffee.

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  • The government have run out of money as there are many more people now wanting a slice of the cake. There has been a huge rise in the population some of whom have significant health needs and the elderly are living longer (a very good thing).
    Students nurses are unlike other students as they have to work on wards. If they loose their burseries, they should be paid for the hours that they put in on the wards.

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