Banffshire & Buchan Coast SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson has said the Tories have failed their first test of support for the NHS by trying to train nursing students on the cheap - and called for Boris Johnson to match Scotland's support for nursing students.
The call comes after Boris Johnson offered student nurses in England bursaries worth only half of those in Scotland – and failed to remove tuition fees from nursing courses.
Bursaries for student nurses in England were scrapped as part of the Tories’ austerity measures - a policy that led to more than a 30% drop in nursing applications.
In stark contrast, they were protected and increased in Scotland by the SNP Scottish Government with nursing student numbers in Scotland having increased for the seventh year in a row. Thanks to the decisions of the Scottish Government, nursing students in Scotland will also receive an increased bursary of £10,000 per year from next September and already benefit from free tuition.
Commenting, Mr Stevenson said: “Boris Johnson is failing the NHS and failing those in England who want to become nurses - he wants to train nurses on the cheap and leave them facing huge debts.
“This is after the Tories removed nursing bursaries and introduced tuition fees that led to a 30% drop in nursing student applications at a time when NHS England faced over 40,000 nursing vacancies.
“In Scotland, student nurses will receive a bursary of £10,000 from next September and already benefit from free tuition. The Tories are now offering only half of that and still expect nursing students, who train on the job, to pay thousands in tuition fees.
“This announcement shows that the Tories remain as out of touch with the real cost of living and as wedded to austerity as ever.
“It is time the Tories followed Scotland’s lead, to attract more people into the profession, and give student nurses the support they need by raising the bursary to £10,000 and making tuition fees free for all.”