Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, criticised the Conservative government’s decision to remove the nursing bursary in England.
Speaking at RCN Congress in Glasgow on 20 June she committed to retaining the bursary in Scotland. ‘Unlike the UK government we recognise the role and contribution of student nurses and the demands they face. This is a guarantee. Here in Scotland we will retain free tuition and will retain the bursary.’
The first minister said that there would be a £3million grant to pay for 500 extra specialist nurses, as part of a £27million boost to train more nurses and doctors.
The upcoming EU referendum was also mentioned urging RCN members to consider the implications on the NHS of a Leave vote. ‘Before you make your choice on Thursday, look at what the leaders of the Leave campaign really think about our NHS. Boris Johnson wants patients to be charged for using the NHS, Michael Gove wanted privatisation, Nigel Farage wants the NHS funded by an insurance model rather than government funding,’ she said.
Ms Sturgeon also announced that the Scottish Government would support a £1million fund for student nurses and midwives undergoing financial hardship. 'Some students face particular hardship and that is why we already committed to launching a discretionary fund of at least £1million for nursing and midwifery students to provide a safety net to help them continue their studies,’ she said.
She also announced the creation of a law mandating safe staffing levels on hospital wards. She will begin talks over the summer to determine how safe staffing can be delivered using legislation. ‘To build on our record, we will enshrine these planning tools in law and examine what other areas of the workforce would benefit from having similar tools developed, which will further strengthen our commitment to patient safety in our wards.’