BOLTON North East MP David Crausby is calling on the Government to rethink plans to replace NHS bursaries with student loans.

Currently student nurses get a non-means tested grant of £1,000 a year, and an annual NHS means tested bursary which they do not have to pay back.

The Government intends to introduce tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year and replace bursaries with a living expenses loan, potentially leaving students with over £60,000 of debt for a three-year course that leads to a £21,000 a year starting salary.

Mr Crausby, who represents Bolton North East, has co-sponsored a motion in Parliament asking the Government to reverse this decision.

The motion highlights the fact that the average age of nursing students is 29.

Those making a commitment to pursue this vocation are more likely to have family commitments and more living expenses than the typical student, Mr Crausby said.

He added that many of them may already have thousands of pounds worth of student debt from a previous degree.

Nursing students also take part in unpaid placements in hospitals to receive practical experience.

Alongside their time in university their commitment can be as much as 38 hours a week, making it hard for them to also take on part time employment to cover their living expenses, the MP said.

Mr Crausby added: “We are already seeing a shortage of nurses across the country with some hospital wards dangerously understaffed.

"We want more people to join the profession and play an essential role in our society and yet the Government repeatedly freezes nurses pay, hits them again with cuts to tax credits, and now sends out a message to potential new recruits that your options are work every hour of the day or accept a massive debt."