Defend Healthcare Student Bursaries

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2016 Health Care Service Group Conference
6 December 2015

Conference welcomes the decision at the 2015 Health Service Group Conference to call on the Health Service Group Executive to campaign for all nursing and other ‘non-medical’ pre-registration healthcare students to be paid a salary no less than the Living Wage.

Conference condemns the announcement in George Osborne’s November 2015, Autumn statement, to end the funding of bursary payments by Health Education England (HEE) to ‘Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professional students from September 2017.

The Government’s proposal means that the £1.2 billion which Health Education England (HEE) currently provides for nursing, midwifery and Allied Health Professional (AHPs) bursaries and tuition fees will be taken out of HEE’s budget. It is no surprise that the proposal has been met with anger and alarm.

Conference welcomes the UNISON briefing dated 27 November 2015 which pointed out that:

“Preliminary UNISON modelling, based on the continuation of pay restraint and the use of tuition fees and loans from 2017, projects that a student graduating in 2020 could be facing debts of £51,600 and a starting salary of £22,799 (bottom of band 5 assuming a 1% increase per year from 2016-2020.) Staff could be paying this debt off for 30 years!

Clearly this prospect may deter many from taking up these careers in the NHS. In particular this could have a devastating impact on nursing where the average age of students is 28, and half have childcare or other caring responsibilities.”

This attack on student funding and the announcement to end the cap on student numbers, alongside a drive to increase tuition fees, will move pre-registration healthcare education even further towards an open market approach. Conference is opposed to the attacks which undermine opportunities for accessing health education for many potential students and Conference supports the defence of the jobs and terms and conditions of our members in affected teams.

Conference welcomes the campaign established by students to oppose the proposals and notes that the Keep the NHS Bursary petition obtained over 136,000 signatures in less than one week.

Conference calls on the Health Service Group Executive to:

1)Continue to work with the UNISON Young Members Committee and the National Union of Students to oppose the proposals

2)Oppose any reduction in Health Education England’s running costs

3)To oppose any attacks on jobs or terms and conditions of members of staff in Health Education England.