The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has succeeded in getting the question of funding for student nurses high on the political agenda, after its campaign for more investment in training secured a parliamentary debate on the issue.
MPs will debate the matter on November 21st, with the RCN Fund our Future Campaign pressing the government to invest at least £1 billion more into nursing higher education.
Following news of the debate being called, the RCN is contacting student nurses to write to their MPs to urge them to attend.
The RCN believes that the axing of the nursing bursary has acted as a major deterrent to students considering a nursing career, and that better funding would ease the financial strain on those who aspire to a career in the profession.
It noted that applications to study nursing in England have fallen by a third since the bursary ended in 2016, with the current academic year seeing a 1,800 drop in applicants since 2017-18.
Student nurse Maggi Genti, who is in the second year of her course, told the RCN website: "Some days I think I should just quit and go back to being a full-time health care assistant. I’ve called my university twice now to say I can’t carry on.
"The financial hardship makes it so hard. I would do anything just to be able to focus on my studies and looking after my patients."
Many students do drop out of courses, as shown by a study published in September by Nursing Standard and independent charity the Health Foundation.
It revealed that a quarter do not complete the course, a fact that prompted Anne Corrin, head of professional learning and development at the RCN Anne Corron to call the study "a stark and timely reminder" of the need to support students better.
The issue has gained more attention because of the approach of Brexit, with the numbers of nurses moving to the UK from EU countries plummeting, while many currently in Britain have returned to their countries of origin. This threatens to make nursing shortages worse.
Written by James Puckle
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