The chief nursing officer for England last week spoke out about the removal of the student bursary, telling delegates attending the Health and Innovation Expo that the move puts us into “uncharted territory” – though I’d argue “massive gamble” is more accurate.
No one has any idea what impact making students pay education fees and maintenance costs will have on the 2017 intake. No one can be confident we will see the 10,000 more nurses training that the government has promised us.
But what is good news is that the professional lead for England’s nurses and midwives is speaking out on this issue and other all-important developments that will shape the world of nursing so dramatically.
Jane Cummings spoke about the bursary, the proposed introduction of the nursing associate role and, significantly, what these measures are being introduced to help resolve – reducing the spiralling pressure on services caused by increasing demand and the nursing shortage.
Such honesty about the big challenges nurses are facing is welcome, and it is something I’ve been calling for in Nursing Times for a number of months.
We may not have the answers yet, we may not have the Plan B if the student intake doesn’t increase, and chief nurses can’t fill their rosters. But recognising the problem is half the battle. A problem cannot be fixed until it is acknowledged. The CNO is doing the right thing in uniting the profession behind her to help form a plan to tackle these unprecedented challenges. As she said in her speech, nurses and midwives must “have a seat at the table as we tackle the challenges ahead” and “we should make a case for the change we want to see”.
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