The Chair of Blackpool Young Labour, David Collett has written the following piece for the Blackpool Gazette explaining why it is bad news for trainee nurses following the Government's decision to scrap NHS bursaries.
By David Collett:
Axed bursary is vital for training of nurses
On the last day of Parliament, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that the Government would uphold the decision to scrap the NHS Bursary - a fund that subsidises student nursing tuition.
Nursing in particular is not like any other course. As a student nurse you must fulfil a minimum of 4600 practical hours as well as hefty theory biased learning. Student nurses also have to travel to various locations, I remember a 2 hour trip each way to a few of my placements, over time becoming very expensive.
The NHS Bursary was designed to attract people to the profession and ease the financial pressures such as travel or the near impossibility to combined placement hours, study time with a part time job. However as of September 2017 student nurses will be made to take out loans.
It is now estimated the average student nurse will graduate with a £50,000 debt. Starting a job that is around £8,000 below the average graduate wage and that has effectively seen a pay cut of 14% in the last 8 years due to the freeze on pay increases with inflation.
The #BursaryOrBust campaign was set up by myself and two other student nurses. Starting with a petition sponsored by Kat Barber and culminating in mass protests and demonstrations throughout the country headed by Danielle Tiplady, #BursaryOrBust has seen support from trade unions and MPs including Gordon Marsden.
Not only will this cut plunge more people into debt during difficult financial times, but could see thousands of new applicants put off from applying. Most significantly mature students with other degrees and loans, or older adults with family’s and mortgages.
Recent reports also show it is now evident the NHS relies heavily on European workers to supplement staffing in an uncertain post-Brexit era, combined with the amount of nurses taking retirement far outstripping new applicants - all pointing to a detrimental decline in our NHS workforce.
Introduced without consultation and despite the government’s own report labelling this policy as a risk the question that must be asked is why now? If reform is a must why place barriers to nursing amongst one of the biggest ever NHS staffing crisis’s and plunge thousands into debt during economic uncertainty? (Spoonful of Sugar – Julie Andrews)
Politics runs through my veins
For as long as I can remember I’ve been helping councillors deliver leaflets, knock on doors and talk about issues around the town. Yes, I am a young person interest in politics.
My earliest memory was sitting in a council meeting around the biggest table I had ever seen while everybody spoke to the king of Blackpool about something called a casino. I was about six-years-old and promised ice cream by my dad.
I now know the king of Blackpool was George Bancroft leader at the time. Since then I’ve knocked many more doors and started my own national campaign.
This year I resurrected Blackpool Young Labour with some help. I wanted to give younger people the opportunity to get involved in politics in a social relaxed safe setting. Politics has traditionally painted the picture of old men sat around arguing, and in some respects they would be right. Youth remains an unrepresented part of our society, but that does not mean we don’t have interested or politicised young people, they just need the opportunity to get involved.
Young Labour starts at age 14 to 27 and I have been star struck by the range and views of our participants. From small discussions to big debates on the EU or Corbyn.
Groups like ours aim to let any young person with a Labour interest come and have their say and become as active as they want. From discussing something they are passionate about to campaigning or standing as a local candidate one day. I believe we must do more to involve our young people in politics after all they are the future. (All The Young Dudes – David Bowie)
Dad was my mentor in life
Readers may have noticed I have been ending my segments with names of songs. This is the last tribute to my dad who sadly died this week Cllr Eddie Collett.
He always wanted to do things slightly different. He was a great lover of music, with nearly all my memories accompanied by a soundtrack.
My dad was not only family but my mentor. I have spent my life watching how he used his position as councillor to try and do good for his local residents and the town.
He not only taught me the values of community and progress but he is also responsible for my eclectic musical taste. From Blues to Reggae Rock and Dub Step his and now my passion for music was as diverse as our interest in the people we wanted to help.
I end on something he once said and I now truly believe, “No matter where you have come from or what lies ahead all people should be supported and given the opportunity to achieve their dreams” (Turn The Page – Bob Seger)