Fears as bursaries axed

David Collett who is campaigning against the scrapping of NHS bursaries for nurses

David Collett who is campaigning against the scrapping of NHS bursaries for nurses

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A Blackpool nurse is campaigning against government moves to scrap bursaries which fund training for NHS nurses and midwives.

It is proposed to replace the NHS Bursaries scheme with loans.

A nurse at work  but the gap between NHS staff needed and staff available should be treated as urgent says a correspondent

A nurse at work  but the gap between NHS staff needed and staff available should be treated as urgent says a correspondent

David Collett, who previously worked at Blackpool Hospitals Trust and is the son of Blackpool councillor Eddie Collett, has helped set up a petition which attracted more than 150,000 signatures and prompted a debate in Parliament.

He said; “The NHS bursary allows many students such as nurses and midwives to train free of tuition fees.

“This is due to an unwritten understanding the majority of funded students will go on to work within the NHS - it’s self-driving its future work force.”

He added on average a student nurse will complete 4,600 hours over a three year placement.

Mr Collett said: “Although this is technically hands on learning, 90 per cent of this time equates to actual work and contributing towards the NHS workload.

“The bursary can somewhat be considered a wage for these hours,”

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden warned people could be left with £51,000 of debt.

He said: “The withdrawal of the NHS Bursary scheme and replacement with a loan, will make it more expensive for people in Blackpool, especially those from low incomes and hinder social mobility.

“This is part of a series of disastrous changes by the Government on higher education which will damage young people’s life chances in Blackpool.”

But Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard said the changes would encourage more people to train as nurses.

He said: “Since changes were made to student loans in 2011 there have been increases in the number of students throughout the higher and further education systems, with a considerable increase in the numbers coming from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Some warned at the time these changes would lead to a reduction in opportunity but have since been proved wrong.

“These changes are about extending the success of the 2011 reforms to nursing students, enabling us to increase both the numbers and the quality of available courses.”