Date Published: 14 September 2005

UK student nurses to receive bursary payments throughout pregnancy and childbirth

Health News from the United Kingdom (UK).

Students undertaking nursing and midwifery diplomas in England are to continue to receive their NHS bursary payments throughout pregnancy and childbirth, Secretary of State for Health Patricia Hewitt announced today. Interim arrangements, which have been backdated to June 1st 2005, aim to ensure that women who would have otherwise had to abandon their studies can continue to pursue a career in the NHS.

Continued bursary payments have the support of UNISON, The Royal College of Midwives and the Royal College of Nursing who have worked closely with the Department of Health to introduce the changes. More permanent arrangements will be put in place once we have more information about the length of time such absences should normally cover has been collected. During the interim pilot bursary payments will be continued for up to 45 weeks.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said:

" Currently student nurses and midwives who become pregnant receive no support from the NHS. This means some of them have not been able to finish their studies. Clearly this is not good for them and not good for the NHS which has invested time and money in their future.
_ By supporting these women through pregnancy and childbirth we hope that they will go on to have fruitful careers in the NHS.
_ By providing this support, we want to send a positive message to students that in their subsequent NHS careers they will be joining an organisation that has supportive, family friendly values
. "

Chief Nursing Officer Christine Beasley said:

" I am pleased that such students will now find it easier to continue their studies thanks to the extra financial support that the continued NHS bursary gives them.
_ I have no doubt that this extra investment will mean that women who would have otherwise abandoned their studies re-join their courses and become the future nurses, midwives and matrons of the NHS
."

Dame Karlene Davis, General Secretary of the Royal College of Midwives welcomed the interim arrangements:

" We have been fighting for our student members against this iniquitous situation for the past two years and I am glad to see that our genuine worries have at last been recognised and remedied.
_ Midwifery is a stressful and demanding profession at the best of times and it is therefore vital that midwives are given proper support.
_ Many students are forced to abandon their studies due to financial constraints. Continuing student bursary payments throughout pregnancy and childbirth is an important step toward addressing this problem.
_ We look forward to these changes being carried forward into positive long term measures which will allow many more students to continue their careers as midwives
."

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON said:

" UNISON has been campaigning for years for maternity rights for trainee nurses and midwives and today's announcement is a real breakthrough. It shows that the NHS is committed to family friendly policies, and will make it easier for all trainees to carry on with their studies and complete their training.
_ It will go a long way towards relieving the financial pressures on pregnant students at a time when they have a lot of additional expense
."

Gill Robertson, RCN Student Adviser said:

" The RCN whole heartedly supports the move to enable women who are pregnant to continue on their courses without being financially disadvantaged.
_ This is will benefit many women who will make superb nurses and midwives in the future
."

Source(s): The UK Department of Health
http://www.dh.gov.uk

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