The Welsh Liberal Democrats have expressed concern at the UK Government’s decision to replace bursaries for nursing students with loans, saying it could have an adverse impact on the future nursing workforce in Wales.
Conservative Ministers announced in the Autumn Statement their intentions to scrap nursing student bursaries, making no attempt to communicate the decision to the Royal College of Nursing or the Welsh Government.
Welsh Lib Dem Leader Kirsty Williams is concerned that the decision could impact upon future numbers of nurses available to work in the Welsh NHS, with the decision to train to be a nurse becoming less attractive.
The party has tabled an amendment to today’s Assembly debate on the Comprehensive Spending Review which criticises the Government’s decision.
Kirsty Williams AM, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, said:
“This decision is bad news for Wales. It will undoubtedly have an adverse impact on the number of qualified nurses we have in the future, and the fact that the Government didn’t even think to tell the profession in advance is shameful.
“It’s important to consider that student nurses don’t lead a normal student life. The massive workload and varied shift work required makes it near-on impossible to get a job to supplement a student loan, making bursaries vital to ensure courses are accessible.
“Not only that, but student nurses work for our NHS – usually 37.5 hour working week shifts. This news effectively means the Government is asking students to pay for their own labour.
“We need an urgent assessment from Welsh Ministers as to the impact this decision will have on the future Welsh workforce, and I sincerely hope that the UK Government will reconsider their ill-thought out decision.”