Student nurses and midwives marched on the streets of London on 9 January to protest the government's decision to replace bursaries with loans.
The march began at St Thomas’ Hospital and ended at 10 Downing Street, where the crowd was addressed by speakers such as Janet Davies, chief executive of the RCN, and Heidi Alexander, the shadow health secretary.
‘RCN students have today shown just how worried they are about this move and its potential effects,’ said Ms Davies, speaking at the rally. ‘Student nurses and midwives are the profession’s future and their voices and concerns must, and should be listened to.’
The decision was made by George Osborne, the chancellor, as part of the spending review in November. The government has said that the move will allow universities to offer more training places for nurses, but other organisations have criticised the move, saying that it will
‘Bursaries are an essential financial support and without them, many of us here today wouldn’t have been able to fulfill our dream of becoming a nurse,’ said chair of RCN Student Council Sylvia Duval. ‘Taking away these grants and replacing them with hefty loans will only pile on more personal financial pressure to an already overstretched part of the health care workforce. We are deeply worried about what this move means for the future of the NHS, our future colleagues and above all, patient care.’
Since the decision was made, over 150,000 people have signed an online petition calling the government to reinstate the bursary system. Parliament will debate the petition on 11 January.