Glastonbury Festival founder, Michael Eavis, has offered to give 500 free tickets to local student nurses in Somerset, in order to engage more people with the profession and boost recruitment.
Mr Eavis said the idea came from a conversation with a local NHS trust chair, who said there was a ”a real problem with the lack of nurses being trained now”, according to a local report on Somerset Live.
As a result, Mr Eavis decided that up to 500 student nurses could visit the 2019 Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm for free, rather than pay around £240 for a ticket. He revealed the offer at Shepton Mallet’s hospital fete on 12 July.
The offer is reported to eb open to anyone who lives in the Mendip area and who enrolled in a nursing course in 2018.
It comes against the background of the well-documented national nurse staff shortage. According to NHS figures, from July 2017 to the end of September, there were 87,964 advertised vacancy full-time equivalents in England.
In February, Hayley Peters, chief nurse for Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, stated that “there are no more nurses in Somerset”.
Meanwhile, staffing shortages led Somerset Partnership NHs Foundation Trust to temporarily close its inpatient units in October 2017. The inpatient beds at Shepton Mallet, Chard and Dene Barton were temporarily relocated to other community hospitals.
They reopened on Monday 9 July with the inpatient unit at Chard Hospital remaining temporarily closed.
Somerset Partnership is set to work with the hospital staff and League of Friends at Dene Barton to consider how to better use the hospital while the wards are closed.
Mr Eavis, who opened the local hospital’s League of Friends event, thanked the numerous doctors and nurses who had taken care of the local community for generations, commemorating them for their “timeless work”.
In a trust statement, Andy Heron, chief operating officer at Somerset Partnership, said: “We are pleased to have reached a position where we are now able to reopen the inpatient unit at Shepton Mallet Community Hospital.
“We have been able to successfully recruit a number of nurses and also safely transfer some staff back to Shepton without significantly affecting neighbouring community hospitals,” he said.
He added: “Our latest review of the situation shows it is currently safer, and more sustainable, to begin a phased re-opening of inpatient units, starting with the ward at Shepton Mallet and then working towards re-opening Chard as the staffing position improves.”
However, Mr Heron noted that, though the situation had improved, it was not “stable enough to safely re-open more than one inpatient ward”.
Student nurses wanting to apply for free tickets, should send their Glastonbury registration number, a copy of their 2018 graduation certificate and proof of work for the NHS in Somerset to email@example.com.