Gordon has joined forces with Blackpool nurse David Collett, who has helped organise the nationwide petition against the Government’s plan to scrap NHS Bursaries schemes for would be nurses, midwives and other health workers to train.
David, who previously worked at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, helped set up the petition which has gone nationwide for a debate in Parliament on the ending of Bursary support. The petition has attracted more than 150,000 signatures, including hundreds of people across Blackpool, and will be debated as a result in Parliament today.
The petition was launched after the Government announced in the Autumn Statement that from 2017, the bursary would be replaced with a loan payment. Gordon has criticised the decision saying it would put nursing students and others into debt.
Gordon, who is also Labour’s Shadow Minister for Skills and Higher Education said: “The withdrawal of the NHS Bursary scheme and replacement with a loan, will make it more expensive for people in Blackpool, especially those from low incomes and hinder social mobility.
"This is part of a series of disastrous changes by the Government on higher education, replacing grants with loans, the decision to freeze the repayment threshold, and removing grants for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, which will damage young people’s life chances in Blackpool."
He also said that it would make it harder for trusts such as Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to take on new staff. "There is currently a significant shortage of registered nurses and the demand for nursing care is projected to outgrow workforce supply," Gordon said.
"Many hospitals are struggling to take on the required amount of staff to tackle this problem, however the Government’s strategy for training up more health professionals will not deliver a solution to this."
David, 25, who did his Diploma in Nursing at the University of Manchester said: "The NHS bursary allows many students such as Nurses and Midwifes to train free of tuition fees. This is due to an unwritten understanding that the majority of funded students will go on to work within the NHS - its self-driving its future work force."
He explained that on average a student nurse will complete 4,600 hours over a three year placement. "Although this is technically hands on learning, 90% of this time equates to actual work and contributing towards the NHS workload. The bursary can somewhat be considered a wage for these hours," David said.
Gordon added: "The Government’s proposals will burden prospective nurses, midwives and other health professionals with at least £51,000 of debt – a move that will damage local people’s aspirations to move into such an important line of work."
You can sign the "Keep the NHS Bursary" petition by clicking here .