13 January 2016

Students vote no to NHS Bursary cuts

NurChat was at the forefront of the nurse bursary cuts debate on Monday 11th January at the House of Commons in London.  Newcross nurses were especially invited to discuss the decision to cut NHS bursaries and the impact it would have for student nurses, prior to the debate by MPs.

Newcross was joined by around 80 participants for the discussion which was filled with people ranging from; students, mentors, nurses, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, and university lecturers,  leading the way for an equal discussion with a range of viewpoints. One thing that was obvious from the outset was the passion and concern there is for the NHS and its future.

During the round table discussion it was clear that there was huge opposition to the cuts and when asked for a show of hands to see who was and wasn’t opposed to them, only one person agreed with the cuts – a powerful message to share with MPs.

“A nursing degree is like no other degree and student nurses are like no other students” was a main argument that arose from the discussion and debate. Many student nurses are studying, on placements as well as taking on a part-time job to make ends meet, meaning that they are dangerously close to the maximum working directive set out by the EU of working 48 hours per week and with 28 being the average age of student nurses, it was pointed out that at this age, people generally have more commitments than younger students such as mortgages, young children and spouses and without the bursaries, mature students simply couldn’t afford the bursary cut.

A shocking fact was that "in one London University, 63% of the University's hardship fund went to student nurses in 2012/13” showing that student nurses simply can’t make ends meet.

A question posed by Paul Scully MP was if student nurses should be on a salary instead of a bursary as "bursaries are gifts, and gifts can be taken away", this idea was well received and everyone in the chamber agreed that it would be a good idea as it “incentivise people to go into the profession, not saddle them with more debt”.

Donna Mullikin, Newcross RGN said, “Visiting the House of Commons on behalf of the NurChat community was a fantastic opportunity to ensure that the voice of student nurses was heard. It was clear that the Government will need to rethink their bursary cuts and I hope that they will take all of the points raised yon Monday into consideration when drafting their proposal.”

Stephen Pattrick, Newcross CEO concluded, “NurChat was designed to be a support network for those with a passion about healthcare.  Being able to bring the thoughts, opinions and fears of student nurses to the House of Commons, where a real difference can be made is a privilege for Newcross.

“Hopefully, together we have presented enough opposition to the cuts to ensure that there will be a rethink on how the Government will go about this.  I look forward to hearing the final outcome.”

Helen Jones MP for Warrington North, closed by stating that the round table discussion was one of the best attended the House of Commons had ever had, and this was down to the passion and concern that people felt regarding these cuts. #NurChat was proud to be part of the debate.

Image 1 caption: (L-R) Stuart Young, RGN from the NurChat community, Donna Mullikin Newcross RGN, Megan Betts Newcross HCA and student nurse.

Image 2 caption: Round table discussion at House of Commons