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Cutting nurses’ bursaries will undermine NHS in Wales

23/11/2021

Plaid AM accuses Labour of blindly following the ConDem lead

Plaid Cymru has warned the Labour government that its intended changes to nurses’ bursaries will have serious knock-on effects for the NHS.

The changes, announced by the Health Minister Lesley Griffiths in October, will mean that the current universal bursary of £6,701 will be slashed to a grant of £1,000 with a means-tested bursary of up to £4,395 available to those who qualify. As a result, hundreds of student nurses will miss out on financial aid for their studies – risking a severe dip in numbers of student nurses.

The changes to the bursary grant were announced by the Health Minister in October, without consultation.

Plaid Cymru’s Health spokesperson Elin Jones said:

"As the NHS comes under increased strain from ever-tightening budgets, it is important that we encourage enough talented people to train as nurses in order to deliver the best possible care for patients. These changes to the bursary scheme will act as a powerful disincentive for people who hope to train as nurses.  This is especially true in a field where students are more likely to be older than other students, and may therefore have family or childcare responsibilities. We cannot afford to price high class applicants out of this important profession.

"Student nurses make an invaluable contribution to service delivery and spend 50% of their time on unpaid placements working in the NHS, and therefore offer the taxpayer value for money. Slashing their only means of income is false economy.

"It is concerning that the Labour government has made this announcement only three months after the UK government announced its plans to cut bursaries. It is even more concerning that this happened with no consultation with the relevant stakeholders, and that it was not a policy outlined in Labour’s programme for government. Labour is blindly following Westminster’s lead, in order to make short term profit. This is a badly thought out plan and will only serve to weaken the NHS in Wales."