Students who qualify from a Greater Manchester university and go on to work for a minimum of five years could get their bursaries repaid, according to a proposed plan in the north west from the city’s new mayor Andy Burnham.
The former health secretary was speaking at the opening ceremony of the annual Royal College of Nursing Congress to officially welcome members to Liverpool yesterday.
“I want to change the thinking that a nursing career is only for the minority”
“Student nurses are different to other students,” he told delegates. “Their courses are much more onerous, they do 2,300 hours in clinical practice and so they can not get part-time jobs. Therefore, how can it be right that they have to pay for their education?
“We all need to speak up for them and that’s what I intend to do,” said Mr Burnham.
He then outlined that in Greater Manchester, he was proposing “new thinking particularly to nurse education”, which would, he said “relieve hospitals from the grip of private staffing agencies”.
“I want to change the thinking that a nursing career is only for the minority to take,” he told delegates.
“I am proposing a radical plan in Greater Manchester that anyone who comes through the city as a health professional, if they commit to Greater Manchester NHS for five years, we will commit to pay them for their tuition fees.”
Mr Burnham said he hoped that what he was doing in Greater Manchester would inspire others to follow similar plans across the country.
He also said that it was time to bring social care staff into the NHS family and ensure that they are also paid properly, and respected. He cited a social care worker he had met who had made 48 separate home visits in one shift, starting at 9am and finishing at gone midnight. She did not even have time to wash her uniform between shifts, and had only been given one by her employer.
He saved his most scathing comments for the current prime minister’s response to the question two weeks ago on the Andrew Marr show about how acceptable it was that nurses used foodbanks. She responded then that nurses did so for a “complex number of reasons”.
“It’s not complex, Theresa,” said Mr Burnham. “It’s simple. It’s not the result of pay freezes, but pay cuts for seven years.”