A study by University UK (UUK) has revealed midwifery and nursing degree applications have fallen by over 20% in England.
The decline in applications has come shortly after the Government announced it would scrap NHS bursaries for students looking to study these areas.
Some universities saw applications decline by 50% in comparison to the same period last year.
Commenting on the decline in midwifery applications, Director for Policy, Employment Relations and Communications at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), Jon Skewes, said: “The RCM has spent the past twelve months warning the Government of the potential impact removing the student bursary would have on application numbers.
“Sadly we can now see the effect we warned of and it is appalling that some higher education institutes in England are reporting receiving fifty per cent less applications for midwifery and nursing degrees than this time last year.”
When the Government announced that bursaries for midwives and nurses would be scrapped in November 2015, they claimed it would create more than 10,000 new training places.
However, the RCM believes that the shortage of midwives will worsen because of this.
The union has also voiced their concern that Brexit may also have an impact if EU citizens, working in the NHS, lose their working rights.
“To burden young women and men with such large amounts of debt that they will struggle to pay with a modest NHS salary is unjust and frankly just wrong. Maternity services in the UK are already struggling due to a shortage of 3,500 midwives in England alone, this shortage is also likely to deepen if EU citizens currently working in the NHS lose their working rights post Brexit and now the damage of the Government decision to remove the student bursary is evident.
“The RCM is deeply concerned that this will further affect the staffing shortage not only in our maternity services, but right across the NHS,” Jon Skewes added.
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