Wales

RCN 'dismay' on student nurse funding changes in Wales

Student nurses in Wales have been "let down" by funding changes, claims The Royal College of Nurses (RCN).

From September 2012, new students will receive a non means-tested grant of £1,000, a means-tested bursary of up to £4,395, plus loan options.

Student nurses currently have tuition fees paid and receive a non means-tested bursary of £6,701 a year.

The Welsh government said all students would receive the same, but the RCN said the profession was "dismayed".

It said the new funding system, announced on Thursday, was in line with similar arrangements in England.

The NHS will continue to pay all course fees.

'Let down'

In addition to the grant and bursary, student nurses will also have access to maintenance loans of up to £2,324.

Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said: "The new arrangements mean that all health care students are treated the same and those with the lowest incomes will be able to access the most support."

However, Martin Semple, associate director of RCN Wales, said: "The nursing profession in Wales will be dismayed by this sudden decision."

"To be let down in this way by the Welsh government, at a time when nurses are already being asked to work in conditions of extreme pressure, is not in the long-term a constructive or sensible approach to the sustainability of the NHS in Wales."

Plaid Cymru health spokeswoman Elin Jones said the Welsh government had "done a copy and paste of the policy of the Tories and Lib Dems in Westminster".

She added: "Nursing students work incredibly hard in conditions of extreme pressure.

"This news will leave them feeling very let down by the Labour Welsh government."

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