Student nurses in Scotland should be employed on “proper salaries” rather than given bursaries, in order to tackle course drop-out rates, Unison Scotland has said in a manifesto for public services.
The document, which focuses on improving public services in Scotland rather than budget pressures, will be used to lobby political parties in the run up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May.
It states: “Substantial and sustained investment in education and training for all NHS staff groups is the key to unlocking capacity and to modernising models of NHS care. As part of this strategy, student nurses should be employed on a proper salary as part of a series of measures to tackle drop -out rates.”
Scotland, which introduced degree-only entry for nurses in 2002, has the highest student nurse drop-out rates in the UK, at around 30%.
A new plan to integrate health and social care for adults in Scotland was also launched earlier this month by the Scottish Government.
Under the “lead commissioner” plans, councils and health boards will be required to contract services from each another – cutting red tape and improving joint working. Ministers argue the changes will lead to quicker access to care, particularly for older people.
Theresa Fyffe, director of Royal College of Nursing Scotland, warned ministers that the “guiding principle” behind the plans must really be benefits for patients rather than cost cutting, which risked alienating staff.
She said: “Frontline services are already under immense pressure as a result of the cuts that health boards are making, and directing resources towards significant restructuring could put patient care further at risk.”
RCN Scotland has also launched a campaign, entitled Nursing Scotland’s Future, to coincide with the elections.
Should student nurses be paid a salary rather than a bursary?