Valerie backs calls to save the NHS bursary

At the Opposition Day debate on Wednesday 4 May 2016, I voted for the motion to ask the Government to keep NHS bursaries for student nurses and midwives.


The Chancellor in his November 2015 Spending Review announced that bursaries for student nurses, midwives and other health professionals will be scrapped from 2017. The Royal College of Nursing have said the move risks leaving the next generation of frontline NHS staff with thousands of pounds worth of debt after they graduate, and could lead to even greater staff shortages in the NHS.


In answer to my question on 9 February 2016, the Secretary of State for Health told me that one thing that can tip hospitals into special measures is having too high a proportion of staff from agencies. Also, on the 9 February 2016, the Manor Hospital admitted that 100 registered nurses across wards and departments were needed they were relying too heavily on premium rate agency staff and bank staff. The shortage of nurses led the hospital to recruit 55 nurses from abroad.


At their Walsall campus, the University of Wolverhampton make a major contribution to the training of future nurses, with an average intake of 250 students. The decision of Ministers to cut nurse training places during the last Parliament has left hospital wards dangerously understaffed and patient care at risk, with important tasks being left undone.


I know that the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry 2013 called for fundamental standards for minimum safety and quality to keep patients safe. One of the ways the government can learn the lessons of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust Public Inquiry is to increase the number of nurse training places.


I call on the government to retain the bursaries and support the University of Wolverhampton to increase nurse training places.


The wording of the motion is: That this House recognises the contribution of student nurses, midwives, allied health professionals and other healthcare staff; has serious concerns about the potential impact of removing NHS bursaries on the recruitment and retention of staff; and calls on the Government to drop its plans to remove NHS bursaries and instead consult on how it can best fund and support the future healthcare workforce.
The House voted against the motion. The House divided: Ayes 158. Noes 277. I have also signed EDM 1081 on NHS Bursaries.