Nursing students will have to apply for student loans rather than have the NHS bursary from 2017 despite opposition from nurses, the Department of Health has confirmed.
The response to the consultation acknowledged that a number of respondents did not engage with the questions , but instead called for mantaining the NHS bursary under the current system. 'Whilst these opinions have been noted, the purpose of the consultation was to invite views on the successful and fair implementation of bursary reform rather than ask about their principles and so these responses have not been considered further,' the consultation stated.
The consultation also stated that there were a number of ideas for reform, which were considered by the government but will not be considered further due to funding allocations. These included paying healthcare students a form of wages, forgivable loans and loan extensions.
Health minister Philip Dunne said: 'Currently two thirds of people who apply to university to become a nurse are not offered a place - we are committed to plans to increase the number of training places for home-grown nurses, midwives and allied health professionals, with those in training getting around 25% more financial support while they study.'
He said that they have listened to feedback from the consultation and as a result will provide extra funding to help cover additional expenses like travel and more support for students with children. 'We will work with the RCN, hospitals and other partners in taking this forward,' he said.
Postgraduate students will continue to receive a bursary for tution and maintenance, only for the next academic year. These courses will soon transition to fit the student funding model where students will have to apply for loans.The long-term arrangements will be finalised from 2018 onwards.
Additionally students who are applying for nursing, midwifery and allied health professional subjects as a second degree will still have to apply for a loan, on the same terms as students applying for a first degree.
One of the most frequently mentioned factors was the complusory clinical placements in student nurse courses. Health Education England will retain responsibility for commissioning placements fro 2017/18 and universities will be free to create additional places in partnership with local Trusts. There will be further work on this which will be released in autumn 2016.
Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN, said: 'Trying to resolve the workforce problems of the past by putting the financial burden on the nurses of the future is unfair and risky.
'While our members are extremely unhappy with this model, it is positive that the government has listened to some of our concerns including the transitional bursaries for postgraduates and hardship funds, but there is still a worrying lack of clarity on clinical placements.
She went on to say this 'was a job half-done, and the RCN stands ready to work with the government on the challenges ahead'.
The Department of Health launched the consultation on 30 June which lasted for 12 weeks and 1743 responsees were received via Citizenspace, email and hard copy before the consultation closed and some additional evidence was received.