Thank you for contacting me about reforms to the health education system and the nursing bursary.
While there are over 13,000 more nurses on wards since 2010, more remains to be done to boost the training of nurses in the NHS. Nurses, midwives and allied health professionals (AHPs) are absolutely essential to our NHS, and I believe that everybody with the qualifications and commitment to undertake these degrees should have the chance to do so.
The NHS Long Term Plan (LTP), launched in January 2019, sets out action to expand the number of undergraduate places, ensuring well-qualified candidates are not turned away. The LTP commits to an expansion of clinical placements of up to 25 per cent from 2019/20 and up to 50 per cent from 2020/21. New routes into nursing, including apprenticeships, nursing associates, online qualification, and ‘earn and learn’ support, are all being backed, alongside a new post-qualification employment guarantee.
International recruitment will be expanded over the next three years, and the workforce implementation plan will set out new incentives for shortage specialties and hard-to-recruit-to areas. The Government has also been clear that it wants EU nationals currently working in the NHS to stay in this country after we leave the EU. After the country leaves the EU, the UK will set its own immigration policy and, in parallel with this, the Department of Health and Social Care will ensure that there are sufficient staff to continue delivering high quality services.
The previous system of bursaries meant that the cost of training nurses, midwives and AHPs was largely borne by the NHS. This led to an artificial cap on numbers. Under this system over 30,000 people who applied to be a nurse were rejected. To correct this, it was necessary to move pre-registration nursing, midwifery and allied health students’ grants and bursaries onto the standard student support system, in line with all other degrees. This change came into force for undergraduates in August 2017, and for postgraduates in September 2018.
The Government recognises that nursing, midwifery and allied health students often have unique circumstances because of the length of their degree programmes and time in clinical placement sittings. Following a consultation on these reforms, the Government worked with the Royal College of Nursing, hospitals and other partners to provide funding to help cover additional expenses like travel and more support for students with children.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
Craig Whittaker MP