The SCoR has written a letter with 20 other professional bodies, trade unions, charities and patient organisations calling on the prime minister, David Cameron, to take immediate action to halt the government proposals to reform student funding for the allied health professions (AHPs), nursing and midwifery.
The organisations' chief executives describe the plans to replace student bursaries with loans from September 2017 as an “untested gamble with the future of the workforce that have not been properly risk assessed. There is little explanation or consultation about what impact these funding changes will have on those who need to train for more advanced or specialist roles."
“(The plan) threatens to reduce the supply of future nurses, midwives and AHPs at a time when patient demand is rising. While loans and tuition fees exist within other parts of higher education, it is important to recognise that those changes occurred after more than a decade of phased introduction.
"The impact will be worse in health because there are no transition arrangements. There is no safety net for the NHS, these proposals will have a detrimental effect on the current and future NHS workforce, and also on the quality of patient care and safety provided in England.”
The letter highlights the challenge faced by mature students, who have increased significantly in recent years on radiography and other AHP courses. It also claims that “women, students with children and those who already have a degree, people who have always made up an important part of the NHS workforce” will be disproportionately affected.
“Many of these people will be unwilling or unable to take on even more debt, and their vital contribution will be lost.”
The letter ends urging the prime minister to reconsider, arrange a meeting with the signatories and “discuss the ways in which we can work together to create a health care workforce that is well motivated and sustainable for the years to come.”