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  • 25 March 2024
  • 2 min read

Should Nurses’ Student Loans Be Written Off?

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Student nurses are taught by a clinician"The Nuffield Trust estimated the loan forgiveness scheme would cost £230 million a year"

Newly registered nurses who work in the NHS for ten years should have their student loans written off, according to a new report.

The report by The Times Health Commission suggested that newly registered nurses could have their student debt forgiven if they stay working for the NHS.

The report’s proposal is that student debt be reduced by 30% for newly registered nurses if they stay in the NHS for three years, reduced by 70% if they stay seven years and be fully cleared after ten years’ employment.

Increase clinical staffing numbers and retention in NHS

The aim of the plan would be to boost the numbers of people applying to healthcare courses, as well encouraging newly qualified staff to stay in the NHS, thus reducing the requirement for agency staff.

With only 60% of nursing university places currently translating into full-time nurses working in the NHS, it is hoped that the loan forgiveness scheme could help address the high dropout rates for nurses both during and after training.

Our health service will continue to fall over the precipice while there’s little incentive to become a nurse and those registered want to leave for better paid, less stressful jobs. RCN General secretary Pat Cullen

The elevated attrition rates amongst qualified staff and those in training was leading to increased pressure on the NHS, with a resultant increasing of costs for taxpayers, the report stated.

The report also claimed the NHS needed to become a ‘much better employer across the board’ in order to retain staff and attract people into healthcare professions.

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Scheme would cost £230m per year

The Nuffield Trust estimated the loan forgiveness scheme would cost £230 million a year.

They insisted the cost is ‘highly affordable’ and would be partially offset by upcoming changes to student loan repayments.

The RCN said it supported the idea of student loans being written off but argued that tuition fees for nurses should be abolished as well.

“Our evidence to the commission showed that sky-high tuition fees deter people from entering the profession” explained Pat Cullen, RCN General Secretary.

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About the author

I believe people working in healthcare should be able to choose to enjoy work. That is, choose an employer who reflects their values and provides them with a sustainable career. This leads to better patient care, higher retention rates and happier working lives in this most important employment sector.

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    • Mat Martin 19 days ago
      Mat Martin
    • Mat Martin
      19 days ago

      Nurses or all health care professionals shouldn't have to pay for a loan to study. This is why the apprentice ... read more