Student nurses and midwives are marching in protest against government plans to axe the NHS student bursary.
The plans, announced during George Osborne’s spending review in November, will see bursaries for nursing students and other healthcare undergraduate professions replaced with loans.
The march started at 12pm on Saturday from St Thomas’s hospital at Westminster Bridge and is set to finish at Downing Street where a rally will take place with a series of guest speakers.
Members of the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives have joined the march.
RCM head of education and learning, Carmel Lloyd, said: “These government plans are appalling and will undoubtedly deter many committed and talented people from considering a career in midwifery. The RCM is extremely disappointed that the government did not seek advice or consult with us prior to making this decision.
“This is a change that has huge implications for both our student midwife members and an already understaffed maternity service. Currently, we have a diverse body of students who come from all walks of life: many are mature, not school leavers, who already have substantial caring and financial commitments. They will be particularly hit hard.”
Since the announcement was made by Osborne, more than 150,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the government to retain the NHS bursary. Parliament will debate the petition on 11 January.