Connect with us


Why should we defend NHS Student Bursaries? #BursaryNotBust



George Osborne apparently owns a stake in his father’s fabric shop. You can read it on Wikipedia. It’s quite romantic to think of young Gideon, playing amongst the exquisite textiles, maybe trimming a little off one part, his safety scissors in hand, severing the threads of an intricate ensemble. The little I know about textiles suggest that things can go awfully awry when you hack too much away from the material, not leaving you enough to fashion with. Public services are a little bit like that as well.

Recently the government announced that it was planning to cut NHS student bursaries. This is just one such slashing amongst the myriad; firefighter numbers down by 7000; the police losing £200 million; cuts to legal aid. This is not mentioning the fight about junior doctor contracts. One has to wonder exactly the kind of society George, and his friends, would like to see at the end of this decade. Safety nets that helped to catch the most vulnerable in society are being stripped bare. If you’re rich you should make it through though. For those of us who work in the NHS, you sit close to the maelstrom of these colliding events. A muddled, older person leaves the gas on at home – she is blown up, goes to hospital and is treated, needs subsequent social care, whilst the family are involved in a wrangle over property with no free advice – at different points the support system fails. But each of us cannot see how the tapestry has fallen to pieces, each seam peeling away. We only work within our own fields of vision, and with our own experiences.


To turn more specifically to the case of NHS bursaries – I am highly suspect when the government claims to be doing anything to support nurses, or their clinical colleagues. Why would you make it so much more difficult for non-EU nurses to stay (making them leave after 6 years if they do not earn enough), whilst also cutting nurses’ free education? Many of our present working nurses are nearing retirement: we may be short by some 47,500 in 2016. This is not a government that supports the NHS, but undermines it. The Letwin and Redwood book of austerity reigns supreme. It likes to claim spending is maintained. It likes to conflate a stimulus with a reduction in deficit. It is happy to try to keep the body looking somewhat presentable, whilst slightly damaging each of the organs.

The free bursary was mine, during my fairly recent student days, and like all nursing students I worked for it – in placements and with essays. I feel for those younger, and also those more mature, people who wish to train to be nurses in the future. I am not looking forward to mentoring them, despite wanting to take my mentorship course. I enjoy teaching. It is a vital part of a nurse’s job. But attrition is already suspected to be around 50%. What a terrible waste of both of our efforts should they choose to drop out, unable to pay the bills. To put aside the discredited economic arguments for what the government are doing, it does not take an archbishop, or a moral philosopher to see their actions are morally reprehensible. When the UN show up on your doorstep to investigate your party’s treatment of disabled people, you need to take a look at yourself in the antique, heirloom mirror.

On January 9th 2016 I will be marching alongside fellow student nurses and other allied health professionals.

If you want to join us meet at St. Thomas’ hospital, London at 12.00pm

The plan is to help raise the public’s awareness of the Tories’ base treatment of trainee clinicians. I hope many doctors will also be there. I hope the whole thing will not fall on totally deaf ears. I hope primarily it will bring public sector workers together, and let them see how they are being stitched up. Whatever damage the present lot do, it is still reassuring to think they have five years only to do it in. The NHS, for all its present faults and failures, has lasted nearly 70 years. I have doubts that will be the same beast in 70 more. But there’s fight in it yet.



Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.



Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.


Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

Continue Reading


NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.



Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”


With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

Continue Reading