End of Student Nurse Bursaries


If you have lived under a rock and haven't been on any form of social media, you may not have heard about the end of bursaries for student nurses. I thought it was about time I talked about it on here!

Last week it was announced by George Osbourne that whilst the NHS would be getting a budget increase of £3.8bn in 2016/17, student nurses (among other student allied health professionals) would see the end of free education and student bursaries. If you didn't know up until next year all student nurses were entitled to free tuition fees as well as a £1000 non-assessed bursary. Some students were also eligible for a means-tested bursary and a reduced rate student loan. 

Their aim behind axing the student bursaries and free tuition is.......

To boost the numbers of student nurses joining the NHS workforce?!!

I have spent the last week looking at what all of the current and future students have been saying on social media.......it's not pretty!! I reached out to some of them on Twitter and this is what they had to say.....

                                                                          Dr SLJ                                                                                   

I also spoke to Louise from Keep the Bursary on Twitter, she said that several students (including mature students) have opened up to her saying that they are not going to be able to afford further mental health nursing degrees. Another student mentioned that as a single parent of a young child in full-time nursery, she would not be able to complete her nursing degree without the financial support of the bursary. 

I am currently a 3rd year student nurse, I should (all fingers crossed) finish my nursing degree in September and graduate in a years time. By the end of my degree I will have completed at least 3,200 hours in placement. Throughout my three years at uni, I have completed 7 placements that have been between 8-12 weeks long. Since my first placement I have worked 37.5 hours a week without any sickness. I don't get sick pay if I'm not well and have to miss a shift, I have to make the time up which adds an extra day working. I work earlies, lates, 12 hour days, 14 hour days, and nights.......I work the same work schedule as my registered nurse mentor. A registered nurse that earns £ 21,692 a year, that is £11.09 an hour. Ever since my first placement of my second year I have had my own patients, I have been the 'main nurse' for my patients with my mentor supervising me. That equals to £4,990 in just one 12 week placements! 

As third year student nurse so much more is expected of you, you are looked at like another staff nurse on the team and to rightly because in 6 months time we will be! With that comes responsibilities....
  • I have sat with a wife after she heard her husband has been told that his cancer has returned and is more aggressive. I've been able to answer her questions as well as giving her someone she can just cry to because she wanted to be strong for her husband. 
  • I gave someone who could no longer care for themselves independently their dignity back by spending 45 minutes assisting them as they had a bath, something they haven't been able to do with minimum assistance for a while. 
  • I have sat and calmed a patient while they were delirious during their death. 
  • I have comforted sons and daughters after they have sat and watched their mother take their final breathes. 
  • I have shown small acts of compassion by bringing a sweet tea to relatives that are utterly grief stricken.
  • I have shown respect for patients independence and their routines by simply bringing them tea and toast, something they would usually have before bed and haven't felt they could ask for.
  • I have sat and spoke to a patient for an hour about their fears and things that made feel them anxious.
  • I have missed countless family occasions because I was in placement.
  • I have woken up at 4.30am and not returned home till 11pm at night while being on placement.
  • I have worked so many night shifts and erratic shift patterns, it would make George Osbourne and Jeremy Hunt's head spin.  
  • I go to placement early and leave late because for me this is not a job, this is my vocation and my calling. 

I am a 22 year old student nurse that comes from a one-parent, low-income family that will start my career on a salary of about £21,600 a year. I graduate next December, when I graduate I will finish will roughly £6,000 worth of debt. However if I didn't start my degree when I did and was receiving the loans that my younger brother does, I would finish my degree with roughly £45,000 worth of debt. The idea of leaving my degree with nearly £50,000 worth of debt is just absolutely crushing and appalling, that is the equivalent to nearly 2 and a half years salary! 

I think the way the end of the student bursaries has been announced is very disjointed, we were told that they would be replaced with loans but I've not really found any other information about the funding replacement other than student loans. I will say if they were to be replaced with the funding my little brother is currently getting whilst completing his IT degree, I would feel better. I won't lie I would end up with WAY more debt than I will finish university with at the end of next year, however I may have been able to spend my three years during my degree not having to work......is that really worth all the debt though?!!

It may sound like I have just said "I" a lot in this blog post, but without my NHS bursary, I would not be able to afford to do any of this for my patients. I would not be able to do what I love.....my job. What is sad is they will think they will get away with this because we are all so caring and compassionate to our patients. They need to know we will not be pushed down and ignored, they tried to walk over the junior doctors and we all stood up and fought for what was wrong......now it's our turn to stand up and shout, they cannot push up down and decide things that will impact us and they haven't even been on the front line and experienced it! 

I invite George Osbourne and Jeremy Hunt to join me on my next placement, come and spend a couple of hours with me (cause we all know you wouldn't do a whole 14 hour shift) and let me show you just how much you've got it wrong, let me show you just how hard I work and what a difference I make to my patients for £2.04 an hour!

One thing that has crossed my mind and is truly sad and should be considered, is due to these cut backs you are likely to deter some of the most caring, compassionate and dedicated student nurses that would go on to be truly inspirational staff nurses......but they won't because they simply cannot afford to train!!! 

Believe in yourself and all that you are. Know that there is something inside of you that is greater than any obstacle.   

Danielle Levy

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