Labour MP Andy Burnham has pledged to keep bursaries for student nurses if he becomes the Mayor of Greater Manchester.
Announcing his plans for the city today, he said he would introduce a new system of education funding in which bursaries would be provided if nurses agreed to work in the NHS in Greater Manchester for at least five years after qualifying.
This would be funded through reducing NHS spending on agency workers and temporary staff, he said.
“It makes no sense whatsoever to scrap the nursing bursary when our hospitals are already in the grip of agencies”
Mr Burnham, who is a former health secretary and shadow health secretary, announced earlier this summer he was putting himself forward as the Labour candidate for the first elected mayor of Greater Manchester, a post that will be created from 2017. The party is still yet to select its official candidate.
Revealing his plans today he said health secretary Jeremy Hunt was “handing over an NHS to Greater Manchester in increasing crisis”.
He said figures showed Greater Manchester hospitals spent over £100m on agency staff last year, which he claimed was almost equivalent to size of their deficit.
“If I am elected mayor, I will set the NHS in Greater Manchester on a different path to the rest of Tory England”
“[Jeremy] Hunt’s policies are making matters even worse, not better. It makes no sense whatsoever to scrap the nursing bursary when our hospitals are already in the grip of private staffing agencies,” he said.
“If I am elected mayor, I will set the NHS in Greater Manchester on a different path to the rest of Tory England. I will roll back the privatisation of services, train more home-grown staff and free our hospitals from this vice-like grip of private staffing agencies,” he added.
Mr Burnham also said he wanted to create the country’s first national health and care service, which would “bring social care out of the private sector and in to the NHS”.
To help achieve this, he said he would introduce a new fast-track nursing apprenticeship for young people working in social care.
Last week, the government confirmed bursaries for student nurses in England would be removed from autumn 2017 and that new trainees would have to instead take out loans for university tuition fees and maintenance costs.
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The announcement came despite widespread criticism of the proposals by students and nurses, who said the changes would deter people from training due to the prospect of debts of around £50,000 for the three-year degree.
As part of plans to devolve powers from central government out to some cities, Greater Manchester’s mayor will have responsibility over the region’s health services.