Wes Streeting, MP for Ilford North, questioned government on how scrapping student nurse bursaries would impact on community nursing in a parliamentary debate on 11 January.
Referencing an article published in Independent Nurse, Mr Streeting said the community workforce were important in alleviating pressures on A&E, when asked by Jim Cunningham, MP for Coventry South, if he thought that the change in bursaries would have 'a big impact on when we try to recruit community nurses for all sorts of illnesses'.
Mr Streeting went on to say that since the first adjournment debate he raised on 14 December he had seen the article written by chief executive of the Queen's Nursing Institute Crystal Oldman. Ms Oldman's article states that removing the bursary would disadvantage primary care due to the higher level of mature students entering this sector of nursing.
Mr Streeting said during the debate: 'If we are trying to present patients from presenting at accident and emergency, which is important to alleviate waiting times and the burden on A&E departments, it is vital that people can access timely care and support in the community.' He believes that the government have not fully considered this consequence but looked forward to hearing [Ben Gummer, minister for nursing's] response.
Mr Gummer acknowledged that recruitment into primary care settings has 'traditionally suffered'. He spoke of Health Education England scheme Transforming nursing for community and primary care which it launched just over a year ago. The aim of the project is to incentivise nursing applicants into community and primary care nursing.
'Again, I hope that universities will respond positively, as they have in the case of other courses, so that they step up to the workforce demands placed on them as a result of the reforms that we are making,' he said.
A longer analysis of the student nurse bursary will be in the Monday 18 January issue of Independent Nurse.