Review of HSC student bursaries

Health Minister Edwin Poots has announced changes to Nursing and midwifery Bursaries following consultation.

The changes aim to bring payments made to student nurses and midwives in line with other health and social care students from the 2012/13 year onwards. The changes will mean that: The basic annual non means tested, non repayable Bursary for Nurses and Midwives entering training from 2012 and beyond will be reduced from £6055 to £5165 per annum.

Book and Uniform Allowance £190 will be removed.

Means-tested Dependency Allowances will be increased by 5% in 2012. For a spouse or first child, it will rise from £2275 to £2389 per annum and for each subsequent child it will rise from £540 to £567 per annum. Further stepped increases of 5% in 2013 and 5% in 2014 will be considered annually according to affordability.

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The Minister said: “I realise the reduction in the non-means tested bursary may be disappointing for some students enrolling in the 2012/13 year. However, I remain fully committed to supporting our student nurses and midwives in their training and my Department will continue to fund training for Health and Social Care Students.

“I must balance this though against the ongoing need to ensure value for money and sustainability in bursary provision. The changes to the student nurses and midwifery bursary scheme will mean potential savings of around £2.2million over a three year period for the health service.

“I have therefore approved the consultation proposals to reduce the basic non means-tested bursary for students entering training from 2012 and beyond. For those students with dependants I have approved an increase in the means-tested element of the scheme to continue to encourage those students with caring responsibilities to access and complete training. I hope to increase this element incrementally over the next two years if it proves affordable given my budget pressures.

“The bursary scheme was initially introduced at a time when it was difficult to attract students to train as healthcare professionals, and it is important over time to harmonise the different schemes to ensure funding is fair across professions”.

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Concluding, the Minister said: “In Northern Ireland, we benefit from a highly skilled and dedicated Health and Social care workforce. I want to ensure that we can continue to deliver high quality, safe and effective services across Northern Ireland.”