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”
“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”
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.
- Government says nurse bursaries will not return despite petition
- Scottish student nurse and midwife bursaries rise to £10,000
- Labour chases nursing vote with three-part NHS pledge
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.