A motion to prevent student nurse bursaries from being replaced with loans was rejected in the House of Commons.
Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander called the debate urging the government to rethink the decision to scrap student nurse bursaries and instead consult on how best to fund nursing, midwifery and allied health courses.The proposal defeated by 277 to 158.
Opening the debate, Ms Alexander, said: ‘Not content with junior doctors, the government are now targeting the next generation of nurses, midwives and other allied health professionals. Instead of investing in healthcare students, and instead of valuing them and protecting their bursaries, which help with living costs and cover all their tuition fees, the Government are asking them to pay for the privilege of training to work in the NHS: scrap the bursary, ask tomorrow’s NHS workforce to rack up enormous debts, and claim that this is the answer to current staff shortages.’
Jeff Smith, Labour MP for Withington raised concerns at the lack of consultation with the Royal Colleges stating that 'parliamentary questions have shown that the Department of Health failed to consult the Royal College of Midwives, the Royal College of Nursing and Unison before the policy was announced in the autumn statement last year'. He said nursing students should have been at the heart of this decision and there should be the acknowledgement that nursing students are not like all students.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was present for the debate, but did not speak, allowing junior ministers Ben Gummer and Alistair Burt to respond to questions. They conjectured that removing the bursaries would allow universities to take on more nursing students, which would help to expand the workforce.
‘We should make these changes not only for reasons of social equity, though that is the foremost reason; not only to produce 10,000 additional training places in our university system; and not only because we have a broken planning system, which otherwise would remain broken,’ said Mr Gummer.
The full debate can be found here.