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Student nurses to march again over bursary reform plans

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Student nurses are to gather in London for a second time to protest against government plans to end free university nurse training in England.

Campaigners are calling for the government to withdraw its plans, which would see student bursaries for living costs and tuition fees removed and replaced with loans from 2017.

They claim the reforms – announced at the end of 2015 in the government’s spending review – would lead to nurses and midwives paying up to £50,000 to train.

“The NHS bursary is not a cost but an investment in care provision”

Student campaigners against bursary removal

Organised by King’s College London’s Nursing and Midwifery Society, the march will take place this Saturday at midday, beginning at St Thomas’ Hospital and ending at Downing Street.

It follows the society’s first march in December, which had several hundred people in attendance.

The demonstration has gained support from unions including the Royal College of Midwives, which is calling for its members to join the march.

The RCM has described the education funding reforms as “appalling”, echoing comments from other unions that claimed the changes would deter students from nurse and midwife training.

Those behind the march said it was unlikely student nurses and midwives would be able to pay off their university debt, due to lower salaries in their profession compared to others.

“The NHS bursary is not a cost but an investment in care provision,” they said.

”Often, we’re already in debt from our first degrees, why perpetuate this false economy?”

Student campaigners against bursary removal

“Our future nurses and midwives will never pay this debt off and we are the least paid members of society. Often, we’re already in debt from our first degrees, why perpetuate this false economy?” they added.

However, the government has argued the reforms would allow universities to increase the number of course places they can offer, which would help to ease the national nurse and midwife workforce shortage.

It has also claimed the change would provide students with access to more money up-front for living costs than they currently receive from their bursary.

Other demonstrations against the reforms are also being planned across the country for this weekend, including in Middlesbrough and Manchester.

Meanwhile, an online petition calling for the government to retain bursaries attracted more than 10,000 signatures before Christmas.

It has sparked a debate by MPs, which is due to take place in the House of Commons on 11 January.






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Readers' comments (1)

  • UNISON Northern Region have organised a rally at the Newcastle Monument on Saturday at 1pm to defend NHS Bursaries.
    Link to event below.

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