MP: Plan to scrap nurse bursaries retrograde

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SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has strongly criticised the Government’s decision to scrap bursaries for student nurses and replace them with loans.

Speaking during a parliamentary debate – prompted by an e-petition signed by over 150,000 people – Mr Durkan said: “As a Northern Ireland MP, I am conscious that this debate is about the bursary scheme for the NHS in England.

“Of course, the scheme recruits students from Northern Ireland who are undertaking courses in England, and as a devolved Administration we also have our own variant of the scheme.”

He went on to state: “Although the current Health Minister in Northern Ireland has properly set his face against going down the same road as the UK government on the bursary scheme, the fact is that a significant change such as this has the potential to become the predictable text of future devolved policy. It has a conditioning effect by creating a context, and even when devolved Administrations resist such policy changes it usually adds to their costs, which makes the choice not to make the change harder. There is usually policy opportunity cost elsewhere as well.”