The folllowing motion was carried unanimously at this year's AGM.

From September 2017 this Government proposes the removal of Bursaries and maintenance grants for all staff undergoing training to work within the NHS; mainly affecting Nursing and Midwifery students and other allied healthcare professions (AHPs), such as Speech Therapists, Physios and Occupational Therapists, undertaking Degree courses. Replacing these with Annual course fees of £9,000 per year, and maintenance loans. Both of which will need to be paid back. The Government states it is doing this to allow Universities to offer more places, and train 10,000 more nurses than they do currently.

These Degrees are vocational in nature, requiring the students to take up placements in clinical areas; working alongside qualified healthcare professionals, providing patient care. Unlike other degree courses, this often means their course runs for 48 weeks per annum, as opposed to 30 weeks for most courses. These placements will also require them to work 37.5h per week, often doing 12.5h each shift. Unlike other students, these students are unable to earn money taking up part time jobs whilst at University.

The majority of these students are mature, often having previously done degree courses with subsequent debts, having children, or may be single parents, unlikely to take up degree courses in which they will incur more debt, whilst looking at a starting salary of only £21,692. We believe that removing Bursaries and grants will mean that the NHS will have fewer nurses, midwives and AHPs as a result; leaving the NHS in more of a staffing crisis than it is now.

Current students taking these degree courses, and qualified staff, aware of the impact the proposals to remove Bursaries and maintenance grants, taking action to prevent this.

I propose that this Branch:

  • initiates campaign actions against the removal of bursaries for healthcare students
  • provides experience and manpower available in the branch plus an initial budget of up to £500 for materials to support students opposing the removal of bursaries and prevent the potential harm this will do to the NHS.
  • Calls on the regional and national bodies of Unison to campaign against the removal of bursaries for these students
  • encourages branch members to support protests against the removal of bursaries including the day of action on the 10th February which may coincide with the potential strike by junior doctors.

Proposer - Ian McKendrick; Seconder - Jane Lacey