A poll of over 17,000 nursing staff has raised concerns that government plans to scrap bursaries and make nursing students in England pay tuition fees will lead to even greater staff shortages in the NHS.
Two thirds of respondents to the RCN survey said they would not have studied nursing if they’d had to take out a full student loan and pay fees, suggesting that the Government’s proposals will put off thousands of potential nurses at a time when more are needed than ever.
RCN members are overwhelmingly opposed to the proposals - 89% of survey respondents either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the Government’s plans, and 79% believe the changes will have a negative impact on patient care.
RCN Chief Executive Janet Davies said: “The message from nurses is loud and clear: these proposals would reduce the supply of nursing staff and damage patient care.
“They represent a huge gamble with the future of the nursing workforce and the Government has not properly evaluated the many risks involved.”
The Government hopes the new plans will allow for a big increase in the number of student training places, but has not allocated any funding for the extra clinical placements and mentors at hospitals that would be needed.
The survey shows 81% of nursing staff don’t believe registered nurses have the capacity to mentor more students.
“Every extra training place needs a number of high quality clinical placements to give the student practical experience,” added Janet.
“The Government has not explained how these extra placements will be funded, and nurses are clearly saying that without extra funding the quality of mentoring will suffer.
“The Government must listen to these concerns and work with the RCN and others to identify a fair, effective and sustainable funding system for nursing education.”
Members of the RCN and other unions will march from St Thomas’ Hospital to Downing Street this afternoon to protest against the plans.
The RCN opposes the high risk proposals and is calling for the Government to pause and properly evaluate the evidence.