Protecting nursing bursary and free tuition

Investing in Scotland’s future healthcare workforce.

All eligible trainee nurses and midwives will continue to receive free tuition and the student bursary, the centenary congress of the Royal College of Nursing has been told.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that Scottish Ministers are taking the opposite view to the UK Government, who plan to abolish the nursing bursary, in attracting and retaining a high calibre nursing workforce. She also confirmed the discretionary hardship fund for nursing and midwifery students, which provides additional support for those who need it most, will be in place for this academic year.

She said:

“We have already invested heavily in the health and care workforce in the last nine years and I want to build on that success. Under this Government we have seen the number of staff working in our NHS reach a record high, having increased by almost 11,400, including more than 2,300 extra qualified nurses. Earlier this month we made a further commitment to create an extra 1,000 student training places.

“Unlike the UK Government, we recognise the role and contribution of student nurses and the demands they face, and that is why I am confirming our commitment to retaining the nursing and midwifery bursary and free tuition fees in Scotland.

“Some students face particular hardship and that is why we already committed to launching a discretionary fund of at least £1 million for nursing and midwifery students to provide a safety net to help them continue their studies. And we are continuing to work with the RCN, and other nurse representatives, to listen to students about what’s important to them to inform how we can further improve nursing and midwifery student support in the future.

“In Scotland we are committed to working in partnership with our current and future NHS workforce – an approach that contrasts sharply with that south of the border where nursing bursaries are being scrapped and replaced entirely with loans.

“The UK Government’s actions are the wrong choice for nursing and the wrong choice for the NHS. Reducing support for nursing students today might mean there’s simply not enough highly qualified support to care for patients tomorrow.

“We already have a dedicated and diverse workforce from all over the world and I want to continue to attract the best talent to work in our hospitals and in our communities.”

Notes to editors

In December 2015, the Scottish Government confirmed that the Nursing and Midwifery Student Bursary (NMSB) and allowances are to be protected at existing levels in 2016/17. A review of how the bursary scheme can be improved with additional targeted support is on-going and will report in Summer 2016.

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