Bursary cuts: Dental students could be next

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Bursary cuts: Dental students could be next

(Photograph: Jeka/Shutterstock)
Dental Tribune International

Dental Tribune International

Thu. 26 May 2016


LONDON, UK: The British Dental Association together with representatives of other medical organisations met with MP's on Wednesday to speak out against government plans to reduce funding for NHS bursaries in England. The step comes as a reaction to figures published by a London Economics report, suggesting the cuts only generate net savings of £88 million while at the same time heighten the risks of more shortages in health care staff.

“The increased costs associated with this increased dependency could almost entirely wipe out any potential cost savings,” it is stated in the report commissioned by UNISON and the National Union of Students.

According to the authors, Dr Gavan Conlon and Rohit Ladher, students in nursing, midwifery and allied health professions will face 71 per cent more costs, potentially reducing first-year annual enrolments by 6–7 per cent.

Furthermore, universities and other institutions of higher education will miss out on approximately £57–77 million per student intake.

The BDA fears that doctors and dentists will be next in line to lose bursary support, with dental graduates already facing an estimated average debt of £60,000.

“This bursary has been a lifeline for some students, and Ministers cannot sweep it away without giving proper consideration to the impact this will have on our NHS,” Paul Blaylock, chair of the BDA’s Student Committee, commented. “Ditching the bursary will yield minimal savings for the treasury, but have a massive impact on the next generation of health professionals.”

“It’s a recipe for shortages, for fewer dentists, doctors and nurses, that risks leaving both patients and taxpayers worse off,” he added.

According to BDA research, almost half of final-year dental students in Britain reported having experienced financial difficulties during their studies in 2014 owing to monetary shortfalls.

In order to bring health professions in line with other fields of study, the government scrapped bursary funding for students in nursing, midwifery and allied health professions in its Comprehensive Spending Review in November last year. In addition to £1,000 each year during their course, students in those subjects are currently entitled to up to £5,500, including coverage for their course fees.

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