Following this week’s Autumn Statement and Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) from the UK Government, which saw the announcement of nursing student bursaries being replaced by loans, RCN Wales has received news from the Welsh Government that this decision “will result in inevitable complications for Wales.”
In a statement released to RCN Wales, the Welsh Government stated that the formal announcement that took place on Wednesday was the ‘first communication’ received regarding the decision, saying of the news: “With very few details to go on from the information in the CSR, it is difficult to assess the potential impact of the Chancellor’s announcement. Officials are in discussion with the Department of Health and the Treasury to seek clarification.”
“The detailed review of the position is being undertaken and once the details become clearer, the Minister will consider the implications of the Chancellor’s statement on Wales.”
Mass support has been received for nursing students following Wednesday’s decision, with an e-Petition urging the UK Government to keep nursing student bursaries receiving just above 125,000 signatories in over 48 hours.
Of this complex and challenging issue, Tina Donnelly, Director, RCN Wales, said: “Nursing is a profession that is undertaken by hardworking and dedicated individuals and this dedication is proven during their three years training for their qualification to practice as a unique nursing professional.”
“Student nurses spend 50% of their time in direct clinical practice, working over 2,300 hours in the clinical environment and a further 2,300 hours undertaking theoretical education. This ensure that each individual on graduation will provide the highest possible standards of care for patients. Moreover, during their last three months of training, these students are rostered to undertake 37.5 hour working week shifts under clinical supervision. To ask these individuals to now pay up to £9,000 a year means that, in effect, they will be contributing their labour for free. This is unfair.”
“With no solid evidence demonstrating that the abolition of bursaries will enhance the number of students entering the profession to meet the workforce requirements, the impact of this decision could be the complete opposite of that intended, with many nursing students being left unable to afford to undertake their training programmes.”
“As we are currently unaware of the bearing this decision will have in Wales, due to the UK Government’s choice to not consult with either the Welsh Government or the RCN, we await news of its implications and look to work closely with both the Government and our student membership in helping reduce the potential impact this will have on these individuals.”