Do Nurses Need Better Financial Support?

There have been many reports recently about problems surrounding nursing numbers in the UK. Among the biggest threats facing nursing include a drop in nursing applications and many student nurses dropping out due to money concerns and the working conditions which often show that health departments are overflowing and understaffed. Could better financial support for nurses be the answer?

Changes to the ways nursing is financed

As of 1 August 2017, nurses, midwives and other allied health students no longer received NHS bursaries. For many students, studying isn’t possible without financial aid, and the lack of funding has been linked to a drop in both undergraduate and graduate nursing applications.

With an NHS that is already struggling to cope with the demand for services, the drop in nursing applications is a cause for concern. Many student nurses are dropping out of their courses part-way through their studies, with many of them doing so because of financial concerns.

Call for hardship grants to offer better financial support for nurses

In lieu of a bursary, Health Education England recommends that nursing students should be be able to access hardship grants, hoping it will reduce the number of nurses who drop out of their studies. The recommendation is one of 14 from its ‘Reducing Attrition and Improving Retention (RePAIR)’ project, which was mandated by the Government in a bid to cut drop-out rates by 50%.

3,447 students took part in a survey conducted as part of the project, where financial concerns were given as the top reason why student nurses would think about leaving their courses.

Many were concerned about being in debt as they would be unable to earn while completing their studies. Sometimes the costs associated with placements was also a factor, with travel and parking proving expensive – making the call for financial support for nurses even more important.

With attrition being an important factor for healthcare education, it’s hoped that bodies can work together to respond to the report’s recommendations.

The drive to recruit more nurses

While student nurses might find the training and studying difficult to cope with, the positive is there are jobs available at the end of it. The decrease in nursing applications, coupled with the high drop-out rates, has meant that there is a growing demand for nurses and for those applying for university courses. Last year, there were 34,000 nursing vacancies in the UK. Earlier in the year, the NHS launched an £8m recruitment drive to help encourage more school children to pursue a career in nursing, demonstrating the range and importance nurses have in our communities.

Nursing can offer a lot of variety, and nurses are required in multiple areas such as hospitals and specialist treatment centres, the Armed Forces and in GP practices. Student nurses struggling with shift patterns or working conditions should explore the different options that are available that could help address work/life balance as well as their pace of the work.

Out of hours practices, for example, offer the chance to work with patients in a different way. Care tends not to be ongoing, with triage being an important element of out of hours work. Working hours can benefit those needing to balance family life, while providing a chance to work with patients who might have different needs to those seen during regular practice hours. With the public looking for more flexible care options, out of hours is becoming more and more important.

If you’re interested in learning more about out of hours nursing, then our out of hours jobs page features further articles on what it involves, as well as providing information on the benefits available. You can also find details of available positions and details of how to apply.