County councillors have backed a call for the continuation of bursaries to train nurses.
They agreed to write to Chancellor George Osborne over his decision to replace bursaries with student loans.
We have a crisis in the National Health Service. We are importing nurses from all over the world because we don’t have enough.
County Coun Lorraine Beavers put forward a motion to the December meeting of the county council calling for a policy change saying: “We believe this will cause undue hardship and will deter people from training to become nurses”.
She told the council that the average age of a student nurse is 29, with many trainees already having incurred debt studying for previous degrees. To train as a nurse would incur an extra debt of £52,000.
Meanwhile she argued earnings of some £21,500 a year would be inadequate to enable them to pay what she described as the “staggering sum” back.
Coun Beavers said: ”We have a crisis in the National Health Service. We are importing nurses from all over the world because we don’t have enough.”
She paid tribute to those willing to join the health service and help patients and their families.
Her comments were supported by Coun Dr Misfar Hassan who said he could take councillors to show how hard nurses worked and the stressful work they do: “If they (student nurses) are given more stress to take out these massive loans I don’t think anyone will be able to join the profession.”
Now County Council chief executive Jo Turton has been told to write to Mr Osborne and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt urging that the decision be reversed. But not every councillor was won over by Coun Beavers. The motion was approved by 41 votes to 24.