David Cameron is slashing nurses' pay by £900 with grant cuts, Jeremy Corbyn says

The Government claims cutting grants for trainee nurses will make it easier for people to become nurses

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Indy Politics

The Government is effectively slashing the pay of new nurses by £900 a year by scrapping grants for people training in the profession, Jeremy Corbyn has said.

The Labour leader attacked David Cameron Prime Minister’s Question Time for phasing out the grants, which help people meet living costs while the qualify to work in the profession.

From September 2017 student nurses will have to take out loans to cover their tuition fees and living costs – which they will have to pay back when they start work.

The mandatory repayments on the loans at a nurse’s salary would amount to about £900 a year, effectively reducing the take-home pay of the medics.

“The repayments when student nurses will have to pay when qualified will amount to an effective £900 pay cut when qualified for each nurse. Why is he punishing them when we need these nurses within our NHS?” Mr Corbyn said.

“The Prime Minister will be aware that nine out of ten hospitals currently have a nurse shortage – isn’t what he’s proposing for the nurse bursary scheme going to exacerbate the crisis and make our NHS less effective?”

The Labour leader cited correspondence from a women from York called “Vicky” who said removing the grant would stop people like her training as nurses.

The Prime Minister defended the Government’s record on the issue and argued that cutting help for trainee nurses would allow more nurses to join the profession.

“Today, two out of three people who want to become a nurse can’t become a nurse because of the bursary system. By introducing the loans, nurses will get more money, we’ll train more nurses and we’ll bring in fewer from overseas,” he said.

“It’s good for our nurses, it’s good for the NHS, and it’s good for our country. It’s only a Labour party that is so short-sighted and anti-aspiration that he can’t see it.”

Trainee nurses represented by the Royal College of Nursing marched past Parliament earlier this month in protest of the plan.

“RCN Students have today shown just how worried they are about this move and its potential effects,” RCN general secretary Janet Davies said at the time.

“Student nurses and midwives are the profession’s future and their voices and concerns must, and should be listened to.

“Over our 100 year history, the RCN has a long track record in the education of nurses and the Government should listen to our knowledge and expertise as it consults on these ill thought out plans.

“The future of nursing must be protected. Our patients deserve nothing less.”

The Government’s run-in with nurses comes as it is locked in a dispute with junior doctors, who say a new contract ministers want to impose will undermine patient safety and reduce the take-home pay of those who work the longest hours.

A 24 hour strike planned for next week was called off yesterday by the British Medical Association as negotiators plan for more talks, but further strikes in February are still on the cards if no deal is made.