Scotland workforce plan promises to maintain student nurse bursary

Posted: 17th March 2022

A first-of-its-kind national workforce plan for Scotland has pledged to maintain free nurse education and to potentially add more student intakes per year.

In its new strategy, the government said it would invest an additional £27m in nursing and midwifery training over the next three years so that annual spend totals more than £230m.

It said funded places for nursing and midwifery courses would rise by 8.7% in 2022-23 to 4,837, promising increases across all nursing specialities.

Going forward it would “consider the need for further planned increases” in nursing training places for 2024 and beyond.

As part of this, the government said it was “considering the possibility of more than one intake per annum”.

It would also work with stakeholders to determine the feasibility of developing “multi-year intake numbers” for student nurses, rather than releasing training numbers yearly, in a bid to provide “certainty and sustainability to this workforce”.

In the plan, the government flagged its “commitment to maintain a student bursary” for nursing and midwifery, meaning students do not have to pay for their education, unlike their counterparts in England which controversially moved from a bursary to loan model in 2017.

It added that it was also exploring ways to widen access to nursing careers through Open University and apprenticeship models, for example.

The National Workforce Strategy for Health and Social Care in Scotland is based around five pillars of planning, attracting, training, employing and nurturing the workforce, and includes targets for the short, medium and long term.

It outlined an overall goal to grow the NHS workforce over the next five years by 1% ­­– or 1,800 whole-time equivalent staff – beyond “project required growth”, to increase health service capacity and address patient backlogs built up during the coronavirus pandemic.

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