We join the Royal College of Nursing and the Council of Deans of Health in welcoming the Government’s decision to introduce additional financial support for nursing, midwifery and allied health students from September 2020. Universities have seen a significant increase in financial hardship of students since the removal of NHS bursaries, and this is a particular issue in London where the cost of living is high. We have also seen declines in numbers of students from BAME and mature backgrounds in London and improving financial support available could help to reverse this trend.
Whilst welcoming today’s announcement, we wish to highlight that a stable NHS workforce requires longer term planning of the infrastructure to support education of health professionals. This includes work to increase the capacity of the NHS to support students in placement, access to quality education and development (including CPD) for qualified health professionals, and greater flexibility in how qualified staff can be employed and deployed across the service. There is no point increasing the education supply of nurses, midwives and allied health professional students if their learning experience is poor – and they subsequently leave – or their skills on qualifying are underused, under-developed or they are forced into working patterns that do not support their own career aspirations and lifestyles. There needs therefore to be a ‘whole career’ focus on these professions, to create inspiring and rewarding careers for life.