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‘Midwives comment on Government consultation on student bursaries launched today’

7 April, 2016

‘Midwives comment on Government consultation on student bursaries launched today’

Binary Data

Today the Government has launched a consultation on the proposed changes to the funding of education for student midwives, nurses and other allied health professionals.

The proposals to reform healthcare education funding which where first announced as part of the Government’s spending review in November 2015 will if implemented remove bursaries and replace them with loans.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is opposed to any changes that will result in midwives who begin their training in autumn 2017 potentially graduating with debts of over £60,000*, while student midwives who already hold a degree could face combined debt of up to £100,000*.

In response to the Government consultation ‘Reforming healthcare education funding’ which was launched today (Thursday April 7th) at 4pm the RCM is announcing a national lobby of Parliament on Wednesday the 25 May, in conjunction with a number of partner organisations representing healthcare students.

Commenting Louise Silverton Director for Midwifery at the RCM says; “The consequences of scrapping bursaries for student midwives and nurses is detrimental to an already understaffed midwifery profession. Women with children and those who already have a first degree will be particularly hit hard if these proposals go ahead as many of these women already make up a large proportion of our current midwifery student base. Currently we have a diverse body of students who come from all walks of life; many are mature, not school leavers, who already have substantial caring and financial commitments.”

“Whilst other students can work part-time to offset the costs of their degree programme, this option is not available to student midwives because their academic year is longer and they spend at least half of their time on clinical placements. With potentially catastrophic debts and little prospect of earning to offset these costs, we are concerned that the changes will act as a deterrent to aspiring students and will drastically reduce the number of applicants for pre-registration midwifery programmes.”

“The government is aware of the existing shortage of midwives and the significant challenges facing the maternity services and should be doing everything it can to make midwifery and working in the NHS as attractive as possible. Cutting public funding to train frontline staff in an already struggling and understaffed maternity service just doesn’t make sense.”

 

Student midwives share their stories:

Kirsty a student midwife says; 

“I am currently a 2nd year midwifery student and rely on my student bursary to cover the short fall in my family’s income. I am 33 years old, I am married and have three young children aged 3, 4 and 6 years of age.

I had already completed a previous degree in Behavioural Science at a University in Scotland prior to being offered my Midwifery place I know for a fact that I would not be able to afford to keep my place at university as I rely on my bursary to cover travel costs to my placement which is a 40 mile round journey.”

 

Jenny a student midwife from London says; 

“I’m currently benefitting from the NHS funding my place and bursary.  Since I have previous degrees, I already have a significant amount of student loan debt.  If the NHS funding was pulled, training to be a midwife would have added to this debt, and I would not have done it.

My previous degrees were from Oxbridge.  I hope that my academic background adds to the contribution I make to the NHS during my training.  I hope it will continue to benefit the NHS when I qualify, whether that’s in research, quality improvement or leadership, or simply in my frontline work as a midwife. 

If the funding for our training is cut, women like me with previous degrees will be excluded from midwifery.  Our maternity services are stronger when we have midwives from a whole range of backgrounds.”

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

National lobby of Parliament on Wednesday the 25 May 2016:

The lobby will enable students and others affected by the decision to take their concerns directly to MPs. The organisations co-ordinating the national lobby alongside the RCM include, the Royal College of Nursing, UNISON, the British Dental Association, and the National Union of Students.

‘Government saddles student midwives with £65,000 debt’: https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/news/%E2%80%98government-saddles-student-midwives-with-%C2%A365000-debt%E2%80%99

* ‘Cuts to student midwife bursaries detrimental to the profession says RCM’ https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/news/%E2%80%98cuts-to-student-midwife-bursaries-detrimental-to-the-profession-says

Midwives maybe repaying student loans till 2050 if bursary is scrapped’ https://www.rcm.org.uk/news-views-and-analysis/news/%E2%80%98midwives-maybe-repaying-student-loans-till-2050-if-bursary-is-scrapped

 

End

Notes to editors

The RCM is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team. We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences and online resources. For more information visit the RCM website at https://www.rcm.org.uk/.

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