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Government to increase university grants for NHS fields ‘struggling to recruit’


By Awil Mohamoud
22 January 2020

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The government will increase university grants for those studying mental health nursing and radiography as well as other areas where recruitment is low, it has announced.

This development follows the reintroduction of support bursaries in December for those studying nursing or a selection of Allied Health fields. The government will now award £1,000 per year on top of the standard £5,000 to students studying in areas identified as ‘struggling to recruit’.

From September, this will apply to those doing undergraduate or postgraduate degrees in mental health or learning disability nursing, radiography, prosthetics, orthotics, orthoptics and podiatry.

Public health minister Jo Churchill said she wants the ‘support package’ to prompt those considering a career in these fields to take the leap. ‘As demand grows, we need more of the best and brightest to join our NHS,’ she added.

Also, for the first time, students studying to become paramedics will be entitled to the grant.

A further £1,000 grant applies to students with childcare costs or who are studying in regions of England that struggle to recruit.

Time to reinvest

The government expects these payments to benefit around 100,000 students each year and to help it achieve its manifesto pledge of recruiting 50,000 nurses by 2025.

Royal College of Nursing director for England Mike Adams told our sister publication, Nursing in Practice, that mental health and learning disability nursing ‘have seen their numbers particularly hit since the removal of the bursary’ in 2017.

The additional funding is a ‘recognition of that’ but ‘falls short of the overall funding package that is needed to combat the wider nursing workforce crisis,’ he added.

He continued: ‘We will only see safe and effective care for all patients once all nursing vacancies are filled and there is a sustained pipeline of new nursing graduates. This is why all financial barriers to studying nursing at degree level must be removed.

‘With the Chancellor preparing to deliver his Budget next month, I would urge him to provide full tuition fee support for all students and increase maintenance support to be reflective of actual student need. Only then will we begin to see the much needed increase in the number of nurses.’

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