A 'WORRYING' drop in the number of trainee nurses has been linked to the scrapping of bursaries.

The University of Cumbria has seen a drop in those applying for nursing courses of more than 40 per cent (454) in the two years since the government abolished bursaries for students entering NHS professions.

Students beginning courses from August 2017 no longer receive help with living costs and instead have to apply for a student loan.

Applications to adult nursing courses have fallen by 44 per cent whilst those to learning disabilities nursing courses have plunged by 63 per cent which healthcare union Unison blamed on the bursaries cuts.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock said the decrease 'could be extremely detrimental for the quality of care provided'.

“Nurses are the backbone of our NHS so this decline in applications is worrying," he said.

“The government should be doing all it can to encourage bright and talented students to pursue nursing, not putting up obstacles in their way, particularly when we already face a staffing shortage in the NHS that looks set to grow post-Brexit.

“If there’s no sudden uptick, this could be extremely detrimental for the quality of care provided in the future.”

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron added: “This big slump in nursing applicants is deeply worrying but not surprising.

“We desperately need to be training more nurses locally but it’s really hard for nursing students who often come in as mature students and therefore need the bursaries more.

“This is also incredibly damaging to our local university which specialises in nursing.”