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Corbyn challenges prime minister on student nurse bursary removal

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Theresa May has been accused of failing to respond after she was challenged on the scrapping of nursing bursaries during a heated Prime Minister’s Questions today.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused the government of not honouring its promise to end austerity, using the removal of the nursing bursary as an example.

“Will the prime minister confirm that in next week’s budget there will be more nurses in our hospitals”

Jeremy Corbyn

“Applications for nurse training dropped by 12% in September – that’s the reality of taking away the nurse bursary,” he told MPs during the PMQs session in the House of Commons this afternoon.

“Those that want to become nurses cannot afford to go into debt in order to do a job they want to do and we all need them to do.”

He went on to highlight falling nurse and health visitor numbers and claimed the government was “simply not being straight with the public”.

“They promised an extra £20bn – we don’t know where it is coming from or when it is coming – GP numbers falling, health visitor numbers falling, and nurse numbers falling also,” he said.

He called on the prime minister to confirm next week’s budget statement would include measures to boost nurse numbers.

“The prime minister claimed she is ending austerity so will she confirm that in next week’s budget there will be more police on our streets, more nurses in our hospitals and elderly people in desperate need of care will not go ignored and forgotten by her government,” he said.

Ms May responded by saying the government had invested more money in public services including health, social care, policing and education.

“We are going to be putting £394m pounds a week more into the national health service”

Theresa May

But she was criticised by Labour MPs who complained she had ignored the point about nursing bursaries.

Shadow health minister Justin Madders was among those who took to social media to express his dismay.

“Well done @jeremycorbyn highlighting the disastrous policy of scrapping nurse bursaries,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Shocking the PM didn’t address the point at all, the huge drop in applications shows what a failure it has been.”

Meanwhile, shadow foreign minister Liz McInnes also claimed Ms May had dodged the question. “PM didn’t even attempt to answer @jeremycorbyn’s question on nursing bursaries,” she tweeted.

Ms McInnes went on to urge followers to sign a petition calling for bursaries to be re-instated.

In the run-up to the 2017 general election, Labour pledged to bring back the bursary in England, while the Scottish government recently announced plans to increase it.

During the debate today, Ms May maintained the government was investing substantial sums in the health service.

“It is this government that has announced we are going to be putting £394m a week more into the national health service,” she told the Labour leader.

“At the last election Labour said with 2.2% more money into the NHS each year it would be the envy of the world,” said Ms May.

“Well I can tell the House we are not putting 2.2% in, we’re not putting 2.5% in, we’re not putting 3% in – we’re putting an extra 3.4% in with a long-term plan that will deliver for people up and down this country,” she added.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Jeremy Corbyn is correct in questioning the PM upon his pledge to bring back the nursing bursary. The below figures illustrate why!!!!

    The NMC registration RETENTION FIGURES illustrates an alarming drop of an average means of 4,500 registrants between March 2016 - March 2017..............Please look on the below statistics: (NEVER BEEN KNOWN IN HISTORY TO DROP AS IT DID IN 2017)

    On 31 March 2017 there were 690,773 nurses and midwives on the register
    On 31 March 2016 there were 692,556 nurses and midwives on the register
    On 31 March 2015 there were 686,811 nurses and midwives on the register
    On 31 March 2014, there were 680,899 nurses and midwives on the register
    On 31 March 2013, there were 675,306 nurses and midwives on the register.
    On 31 March 2012, there were 671,668 nurses and midwives on the register.
    On 31 March 2011, there were 665,132 nurses and midwives on the register)

    UCAS FIGURES IN 2015 = 44,060
    UCAS FIGURES IN 2016 = 43,800 – Publication on alleged scrapping of nursing bursaries began.
    UCAS FIGURES IN 2017 = 33,810 - DoH officially confirmed scrapping of bursary on 01/08/17, which I originally thought that the UCAS drop had nothing to do with scrapping of the bursaries, I was wrong!!! As the threat of this was already published in 2016.

    BREXIT - 46 Nurses from EU countries registered with the NMC in April 2017, compared with 1,304 in July 2016, according to figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the Health Foundation...........this still does not equate to the drop in figures in March 2017.

    It is transparent that the PM has no plans to reintroduce bursaries BUT merely reiterates how they are going to invest substantial sums into the Health Service. This answer is irrelevant to the question about bursaries.

    Will the Government reintroduce the nursing bursaries? YES OR NO?

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