Government confirms future financial pain for healthcare students, says UNISON

The government’s health bursaries consultation launched today (Thursday) will saddle nursing students with huge debts of at least £50,000, says UNISON.

UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: “This consultation is meaningless. It’s clear that the government has already made up its mind to replace bursaries with loans and fees.

“Replacing the bursary system with loans will put off many potential students, not encourage more people into our caring professions.

“Many will be saddled with huge debts for the rest of their lives. With nurses, midwives and occupational therapists starting out on salaries typically £7,000 less than other graduates, students are unlikely to ever earn enough to pay off their loans.

“The UK already has to import staff from overseas just to keep the NHS going, and nothing in this consultation will change that. Worryingly, it looks like ministers don’t plan to stop at health professionals. The consultation suggests that bursaries for social workers could be next in line.

“The government has published a woefully inadequate equalities impact assessment on the move to student loans. This is a complete reversal from five years ago, when ministers said that a move to a loan-based system would hit women hard, especially those from diverse backgrounds.”

As part of its response to the government’s proposals to axe NHS bursaries, UNISON, the NUS and other organisations are organising a joint lobby of Parliament on 25 May.

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