10th May 2012 10:45 am
Peltz says plans to cut nursing bursaries could damage health service
NUS-USI President Adrianne Peltz has hit out at proposals to cuts to bursaries for nursing and midwifery students in Northern Ireland. The newly-published Consultation on the Review of HSC Student Bursaries has proposed that the annual bursary for nursing and midwifery students be reduced by £890. The consultation also proposed that the one-off book and uniform allowances totalling £190 be totally removed.
Adrianne Peltz said: “I am extremely worried that this proposed £890 cuts in bursaries could deter many people from lower income backgrounds from studying nursing and midwifery courses. We all know how vitally important it is that our health system attracts the highest calibre of professionals and if these bursaries were reduced this could lead to many excellent future students choosing to go down another path and being lost to the health profession.
“It is absolutely ludicrous that government are planning to cut the bursaries for students starting in September given that they have applied already. Government cannot and must not be allowed to move the goalposts. To rip the carpet from under people who have already applied for study this year would be nothing short of disgraceful.
“We have seen the temporary closure of City Hospital’s Accident and Emergency due to a shortage of staff – does reducing the bursary of people studying any frontline health-related disciplines seem like a good idea in light of this?
“These bursaries are an investment in our future and in the future of the health service. For government to take a short-term mentality of cuts on this important funding would be deeply flawed.
“I am also deeply annoyed about the planned removal of the one-off book and uniform allowances for nursing and midwifery students. NUS-USI has been highlighting the burden that hidden course costs have on students and how they have a massively negative impact upon course completion rates. The removal of these allowances is yet another kick in the teeth for nursing students.
“We are very worried that these proposed cuts will disproportionately affect women given that a large proportion of nursing students are women. Also, given that a big proportion of students in nursing are adult/mature learners with familial commitments, this plan will hit many hard pressed families that are already struggling during an economic downturn. These measures could push many mature students even further into debt and financial crisis.
“It is crucial that government works to widen participation in higher education and such a decrease in health bursaries would have the opposite effect. We need to attract the best possible people to the health service and if we cannot attract the best people to study health-related subjects our health service could suffer greatly. We will strongly oppose these proposals and we are very worried that this could be the start of a series of deeply troubling cuts to the bursaries of all healthcare professionals.”
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