Nearly 70% of nursing staff would not have joined the profession if they had to take out a student loan and pay fees, a survey of 17,158 nurses by the RCN has found.
The results have renewed concerns that the proposed removal of the student nurse bursary could put off thousands of potential nurses.
‘The message from nurses is loud and clear: these proposals would reduce the supply of nursing staff and damage patient care,’ said Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN. ‘These proposals represent a huge gamble with the future of the nursing workforce and the government has not properly evaluated the many risks involved.’
The government has justified the plans with claims that the removal of the bursary allows universities to lift the cap on training places. However, 81% of nursing staff said they did not believe that registered nurses currently have the capacity to mentor more students. Additionally, four in five nurse educators said they did not agree with the plans.
‘Every extra training place needs a number of high-quality clinical placements to give the student practical experience,’ added Ms Davies. ‘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 vast majority of nurses disagree with the proposals, with 89% of respondents either disagreeing or strongly disagreeing with the plans, and 79% saying that the changes will have a negative impact on patient care. A protest organised by the Bursary or Bust campaign took place in Westminster on 4 June.
'Nursing staff have shown how passionate they are about the future of the workforce, and thousands of RCN members have spoken out against these damaging plans,’ said Ms Davies. ‘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.’