RCN calls for reinstatement of £1bn nursing bursaries

20 May 19

The government must replace the £1bn that it “catastrophically ripped out” of nursing higher education, the head of the Royal College of Nursing will say. 

Donna Kinnair is expected to blame the “workforce crisis in nursing” on the government ending nursing bursaries in 2017, at the RCN’s annual congress this afternoon.

“Rather than only looking at the cost of educating and employing nurses, the government must think about the true cost – financial and human – of not doing,” Kinnair will say.

“The government must make people accountable in law for this situation and put back, into nursing higher education, the money it so catastrophically ripped out.

“The goodwill of nursing staff is being abused and politicians must know it is running out.”

The RCN called for the government to reinvest the £1bn it saved after it ended bursaries for nursing and midwifery students into training. Forty thousand NHS nurse jobs are now vacant in England, the RCN said.

Kinnair will add: “We will not stop until people are held to account for the desperate shortages each and every one of us has witnessed. Politicians must stop short-changing the public. They must stop the rot and put an end to the workforce crisis in nursing.”

Research by a group of think-tanks from March estimated that nursing shortfalls could grow to 70,000 in five years’ time.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “There are over 16,900 more nurses on our wards since 2010, with 52,000 more in training – and as part of our Long Term Plan we are improving staff retention by promoting flexibility, wellbeing and career development and helping more nurses return to practice.

“As well as providing funding to increase university training places, we will set out a full NHS People Plan later this year to ensure the health services has the staff it needs for the future.”

Research from April found that low numbers of nursing staff is threatening patient safety.

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