Confirmed restoration of bursaries for student nurses

All nursing students on courses from September 2020 will receive a payment of at least £5,000 a year which they will not need to pay back.

Nursing students will benefit from guaranteed, additional support of at least £5,000 a year to help with living costs.

The funding will be given to all new and continuing degree-level nursing, midwifery and many allied health students from September 2020. It is expected to benefit more than 35,000 students every year.

The announcement of the funding comes ahead of the UCAS university application deadline of 15 January.

The funding comes as part of the government’s pledge to increase nurse numbers by 50,000 over the next 5 years.

Students will receive at least £5,000 a year, with up to £3,000 further funding available for eligible students, including for:

  • Specialist disciplines that struggle to recruit, including mental health
  • An additional childcare allowance, on top of the £1,000 already on offer
  • Areas of the country which have seen a decrease in people accepted on some nursing, midwifery and allied health courses over the past year

This means that some students could be eligible for up to £8,000 per year, with everyone getting at least £5,000. The funding will be available from next year. Further details on who can access the support will be available in early 2020.

The funding will not have to be repaid by recipients. Students will also be able to continue to access funding for tuition and maintenance loans from the Student Loans Company.

The announcement comes alongside the latest push in the biggest nursing recruitment drive in decades, with a campaign boost ahead of the UCAS deadline for university applications on 15 January 2020.

The NHS ‘We Are the NHS, We Are Nurses’ campaign, backed by the Health Secretary, targets teenagers who are about to choose their degrees as well as career switchers considering going into nursing.

The measures will be part of the upcoming NHS People Plan, which will set out work to reduce vacancies across the NHS and secure the staff needed for the future.

As part of a wider drive to make sure the NHS continues to have the staff it needs to meet demand, the government has also confirmed that it will carry out an urgent review of the pensions annual allowance taper problem. This issue has caused some doctors to turn down extra shifts for fear of high tax bills.

Treasury and health ministers will meet the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association as part of this review and the government will continue to hear evidence from other relevant professional bodies. The review will report at Budget.

The move comes following NHS England’s recent announcement of special arrangements for 2019 to 2020, meaning no doctor in England will be worse off as a result of taking on extra shifts this winter.

The government is also increasing day-to-day NHS funding so that by 2023 to 2024 it will receive an extra £33.9 billion a year to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

I have heard loud and clear that the priority of the British people is to focus on the NHS – and to make sure this treasured institution has everything it needs to deliver world-class care.

Nurses epitomise everything that makes the NHS so revered across the world – skill, compassion, energy and dedication.

On the steps of Downing Street last week, I said we will deliver 50,000 more nurses, and this new financial support package is a crucial part of delivering this.

There can be no doubting our commitment to the NHS, and over the coming months we will bring forward further proposals to transform this great country.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

The NHS is there for all of us in our time of need, thanks to the skill, dedication and compassion of its staff. I know from my Grandma, who worked nights as a nurse, just how compassionate and hard-working our nurses are.

As we enter the Year of the Nurse and Midwife, we are embarking on the biggest nursing recruitment drive in decades, backed by a new universal support package.

We want every person considering this incredible career to apply for their university place before the UCAS deadline of 15 January, safe in the knowledge they will benefit from this financial support from the start of the next academic year.

This £2 billion plus package builds on the government’s ongoing work to increase the number of places for students and is central to its commitment to deliver 50,000 more nurses on our wards.

At the same time we are also urgently reviewing the pensions issue senior clinicians have told us is having a direct impact on them, so we have the staff we need to deliver the care patients deserve.

Following the government’s confirmation that it plans to restore bursaries for student nurses, Eva Crossan Jory, NUS Vice President (Welfare) has issued the following statement:

NUS and many healthcare unions warned repeatedly that scrapping the NHS bursary would dent recruitment to these vital courses. The Government has belatedly acknowledged that we were correct by restoring the maintenance element of bursaries, and we are very pleased for the students who will benefit. We think it is right too that additional money is offered to those students with children, given that nursing and midwifery students in particular are more likely to have caring responsibilities.

However, it is still wrong for these students to pay over £9,000 a year for these courses when so much of their time is on placement supporting our NHS, and fees must now be scrapped too. We also need to examine the detail of these proposals to ensure they cover all healthcare professions, and that any additional funding doesn’t simply reduce entitlement to the other forms of support such as social security that some of these students will rely on.

We reiterate the asks to the new government that we made in our recent joint letter alongside fellow representative bodies for healthcare students and urge the government to also address related issues such as access to placement expenses for paramedic science students.

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