Health Minister Simon Hamilton this week told the Northern Ireland Assembly that he has no plans to abolish student nurse bursaries.
Responding to an oral question from SDLP MLA Claire Hanna, the Minister said: “I am aware of the announcement that was made in the Chancellor’s autumn statement on nursing bursaries. The Member will be aware that that does not impact on Northern Ireland because of devolution.
"When I entered the Department back in May, some work had been done by officials in looking at the issue of nursing bursaries and also at nursing fees, which, in most circumstances, I think, are paid for by the Department. That is not a route that I wanted to go down, and I stopped that from heading down that direction. Hopefully, that gives some assurance to nurses.
"However, I do think that there are issues particularly around the retention of nurses after they qualify, and I am keen to look at that. There are changes that perhaps we can make that I am sure everyone can agree with. If we are investing in fees, in bursaries, in nurses and in nursing students, I think that we want to see the benefit of that investment in the health service here in Northern Ireland. That is something I am keen to look at.”