The British Dental Association (BDA) will be travelling to Westminster today to support the Royal College of Nursing, NUS, and the Royal College of Midwives to oppose plans to cut NHS bursaries.
Bursary funding for student midwives and nurses were scrapped in November’s Comprehensive Spending Review and it is now widely expected that this will extend further to doctor and dental students.
The BDA believe that future dental students already face being saddled with unacceptable debts exceeding £60,000 on their day of graduation, and the government are now risking shutting out students from poorer economical backgrounds by destroying a financial lifeline.
Chair of the BDA's Students Committee, Paul Blaylock, said:
"The government seems intent on raising the drawbridge to the health professions. Ditching the bursary will yield minimal savings for the treasury, but have a massive impact the next generation of health professionals.
A recent study commissioned by Unison and NUS found that bursary cuts will only generate a net saving of £88 million but the consequences of these actions will see a rise in staff shortages, with agency staff potentially costing much more in the long run.
"It’s a recipe for shortages, for fewer dentists, doctors and nurses, that risks leaving both patients and taxpayers worse off.
"The government can't cut first, and ask questions later. 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," argues Mr Blaylock.
Over 1,231 dental students received support in the 2014/2015 academic year and now professional dental bodies believe that new loans alongside higher tuition fees will only serve to further discourage potential students from applying.
"Nurses, doctors and dentists are at one on this," said Mr Blaylock.