That was a long haul!

10 years ago ConDem austerity destroyed my Ltd company. It wasn’t necessary – it was ideological. The Condemn government used the global financial crash to give tax cuts to the wealthy and make the rest of us foot the bill. Small businesses like mine went to the wall, public sector workers faced a seemingly unending pay freeze and the unemployed and disabled faced such cuts to their benefits that the united nations declared UK to be an abusive state.

It took me 10 years sleeping in vehicles & cheap rooms traveling around UK for work, paying out most of my wages to keep afloat & keep the family housed & fed. In the early days I found myself only able to eat every other day. The kids were well fed though.

Every missed payment to creditors increases the pressure by design. Interest piles up and with it minimum payments rise to accommodate the ever-increasing balance owed. I paid back the original sums several times to no avail because of increased interest and penalties on late payments.

The system is designed to keep us indebted to those investment bankers who caused the problem to begin with. Their sub-prime opportunism inevitably came back to roost but it wasn’t the bankers who suffered for it. They were still getting paid big bonuses and pretending they were needed to keep the economy afloat. Yeah, right!

At times I thought I’d never get out of the hole those greedy lenders had dug for me. But I did it! This week I registered as sole trader again. Back on my feet, no thanks to the tories.

But anyway, now I’m back. I’m offering #mentalhealth & #socialcare training again either face to face (distanced) or online via www.MindTheCareTraining.com and also 1:1 work via http://www.TAMtalking.co.uk 
Give me a call. I’m good at what I do. You’ll get a damn fine service at a reasonable price.

Go on, you know you want to!

Thankyou, Tories!

Dear Tory MPs.

Thankyou so much.

Sincerely, thankyou all from the bottom of my heart for what you have done (and failed to do) about working class children during this pandemic.

Not only have you voted TWICE to deny help for hungry children whose parents lost their incomes because of the Pandemic. Not only did you claim TWICE that there wasn’t the money to pay for such help at a cost of less than 1% of the money you ‘Spaffed’ up the wall on Dominic cummings’ mate’s failed ‘Track and Trace’ programme. Not only did you demonstrate your incredibly skewed priorities but also… and this is the best bit…

You revealed to a struggling nation just how bestial, how selfish and how corrupt you really are. A handful of MPs, including you, Mark Jenkinson MP, my own constituency’s incumbent made some remarkable claims about abuse of food parcels without a modicum of evidence or a hint of plausibility. It may be, of course, that you, Jenky and your monstrous mates were telling the truth but many of us are extremely skeptical, to say the least. And skeptical we will remain until sufficient evidence is produced to support your outrageous claims.

But here’s the kicker – to top it all off, your own dear leader, the one who got you to show your true colours in the first place, U-turned in the face of public pressure… TWICE

Let’s face it… you’ve been well and truly screwed by the very man you looked toward to save you. You have been the architects of your own downfall, choosing this most ridiculous of hills to die on, to throw away your credibility by denying the people a paltry sum for massive social gain, not to mention political goodwill. That goodwill might have been yours but has gone instead to a footballer – a brown footballer at that!

Thankyou all so very much. Especially you Jenky – you’ve shown the people of Workington exactly who and what you are. A self-serving monster!

Thankyou for revealing your true selves – warts and all.

Now get back under that rock you crawled out from.

Someone found a use for all those paper plates!

Were you looking forward to summer?

Did you expect lots of lazy days out with the family, sitting picnicking by a lake or hosting a neighbourhood barbecue in the garden?

Did you spend a small fortune stocking up on disposable barbecues and paper plates back in the day?

Don’t despair. Someone’s found a use for them, after all.

Decorating Jenny’s door

Tory MP, Mark Jenkinson represents a constituency with some of the worst poverty in the whole of UK. Many of his constituents are unemployed whilst others, earning only minimum wage to start with, have seen their incomes further reduced through furlough and now worse. Many have lost their jobs altogether. West Cumbrian hardship is as bad as it ever was. For many hard-working people it’s like the 1980s all over again.

So how did Jenky choose to represent the good people of Workington and surrounding towns and villages? He voted not to help feed their kids!

That’s right. He voted not to help feed their kids.

If you’re as disgusted as I am you may approve of the sentiment expressed here by one Marypost resident who put all those extra plates to good use. What an interesting and fun way to get rid of all that unused clutter from the summer that never was.

What will you do with your unwanted disposable paper plates?

Please, Mark… May the kids have something to eat this Christmas?

Who’s to blame?

From Brexit to Coronavirus, austerity to the global financial crash of 2008 some people seem to have very clear ideas about who’s responsible. So check out the new gameshow from Left Eye View to see if you know who to hold responsible.

Sage: ignoring the science

How sage-like is SAGE?

You might need to grab a cup of tea and maybe a few biscuits for this one – it’ll take a while to explain but I hope you’ll agree that it’s worth it. To really understand the background, the importance of scientific integrity and the vital need for freedom from the political process we’ll need a little history.

We’ve known ever since the ConDem coalition government came to power in 2010 that people on benefits, on pensions, people who were sick or disabled and basically anyone who didn’t contribute to the financial wealth of rich conservative donors was going to have a hard time.

ConDem austerity slashed the finances of health and social care organisations, issued wage freezes for their staff wherever they could and doubled down on means testing and medical review for those in need of state aid to live. We’ve all seen the awful stories of suicides and starvation caused by DWP austerity against a backdrop of tax breaks for the wealthy and tax avoidance schemes for large companies whilst our politicians, many of them cabinet ministers, hid their own wealth offshore to avoid paying the taxes that would help fund those very services.

Conservative policy has robbed WASPI women of their pension rights, reduced the real time earnings of public sector workers in the NHS and Social care as well as slashed the workforce numbers in these and many other vital services including police, fire and housing.

The tories are no friends of the poor or of those who protect and care for them.

The sick and the elderly have been singled out for particular attack, not only by removing the services and benefits that they rely upon but also by ensuring that people have to work longer to qualify for their retirement pensions and that DWP health checks ignore medical advice the government often makes it close to impossible for severely disabled citizens to jump through the hoops set for them.

That’s the backdrop – the Conservatives have no regard for the welfare of anyone not financially independent. If you’re not working and you’re not rich you’re not important. Even if you are working the tories have been extremely skilled at reducing your rights as well as your access to health care should you need it.

Tribunals for unfair dismissal are much harder to access and legal aid is all but unattainable for the majority of citizens. So before we go any further please bear this single point in mind.

This government doesn’t care about people from whom it cannot profit. You know, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes. These are groups of people we’ll refer to again so keep them in mind.

Now a little science history – just so we’re clear about the relationship between politics and scientific discovery.

Back in 1859 Charles Darwin published his great work ‘On the origin of species: Evolution by means of natural selection’. It caused a major stir at the time but then, inexplicably for modern readers it fell into a bit of a lull until at the turn of the century it was revived by two equally awful movements.

One was the creationist movement that objected to the reality of evolution because they thought it undermined the Genesis story. The other was even more nefarious. The eugenics movement committed that most obvious of scientific errors – the naturalistic fallacy. They believed that what is natural must be right and that since nature lets the weak die then human society must do the same.

Eugenicists bastardised the science (understanding what is) for political ends (what they wanted to be). They never quite understood that describing something about the natural world isn’t necessarily the same as supporting it in principle. As a result of that failure to understand the bleeding obvious, in many countries the poor, the sick, those with mental health or learning difficulties and those judged as immoral were denied state support leading to starvation. Some were forcibly sterilised and even in some cases killed. The Eugenics movement was just as strong in this country at the turn of the 20th century. The death toll because politics got involved in science was horrendous. But of course that couldn’t possibly happen here.

Remember those groups I mentioned earlier…

The elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes.

We’ve heard a lot about these groups recently. They’re the ones most at risk from Covid-19. They’re also the ones with the least protection from government both historically as we’ve already seen and currently in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s interesting that they’re the same people the eugenicists targeted, albeit without the focus on ‘moral defectives’ – a group that would certainly include a number of modern MPs, not least the current Prime Minister whose string of unacknowledged children, whose penchant for lying and adulterous behaviour in general would certainly have earned him the title ‘Moral defective’ back in the day.

But of course, his wealth would have protected him anyway – just as it does today. Boris isn’t the target – he’s the intended beneficiary along with all the rest of his kind, parasitically profiting from the work done by those who will never be paid what they’re worth by this tory government.

That’s one thing this pandemic has made very clear to us all. Which are the people society can’t do without and they don’t tend to be the richest – they’re all tucked up in splendid isolation. It’s the poorest who have to take all the risks, the nurses, the care assistants and support workers, the supermarket staff, the delivery drivers and the food producers.

We’ve all known for ever that they’re the real wealth creators but now we know just how unimportant their employers, the wealth takers really are. And we know something else. We know that this government is doing everything it can to give the appearance of concern whilst simultaneously undermining the chances of those that Hermann Goering described as ‘useless eaters’. You know, the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes.

At every daily briefing the government tells us that they’re being guided by the science but what exactly does that mean? SAGE stands for the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. It’s been around for a long time but only under this government has it become secret. We used to know who sat on it. Now we don’t.

Under previous regimes the Prime Minister always chaired SAGE meetings but our own dear leader has missed no fewer than 5 such meetings citing personal issues (not illness – this isn’t about his recent hospitalisation or recuperation). In his place he seems to have sent chief advisor and unelected spin doctor Dominic Cummings instead.

Cummings isn’t a scientist. We learned last February just what sort of man he is when the Guardian reported his blog on ‘designer babies’ as a view that geneticists described as unethical, unworkable and – most importantly of all for our purposes, Eugenicist. Cummings was also the man who paved the way for Eugenicist Andrew Sabisky to get a job at No. 10, an appointment that proved short-lived when his disgraceful opinions came to light and he was forced to resign. Neither Cummings nor PM Boris Johnson have commented.

Cummings wrote in his designer babies blog…

“It goes without saying that turning this idea into a political/government success requires focus on A, the NHS, health, science, NOT getting side-tracked into B, arguments things like IQ and social mobility. Over time the educated classes will continue to be dragged to more realistic views on (B) but this will be a complex process entangled with many hysterical episodes. (A) requires ruthless focus.”

So, a eugenicist who wants to rid the gene pool of ‘defectives’ by ruthlessly concentrating upon the NHS, health and science is sitting on the SAGE advisory group.

Professor Richard Ashcroft of city university called Cummings’ views ‘cargo cult science’. For those unfamiliar with cargo cults they’re religious groups which sprung up on remote islands after the second world war. They believe that if they recreate bamboo airstrips and worship an apparently non-existent American airman called John Frum then the ships and planes will return with all their cargo and Frum will save his people. It’s based upon a complete misunderstanding of reality and so, it seems is Cummings’ ‘science’. Professor Ashcroft said…

“This idea that we can use biological selection to improve individuals and society, and that the state through the NHS should facilitate this, really is pure eugenics”

And yet Cummings continues to advise our government, our Prime Minister and apparently our scientific advisory group.

Are you frightened yet? Remember those groups I mentioned earlier…

The elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes.

Now think about government policy, the history of 10 years of targeted austerity and the vulnerability of those groups in particular.

When the rest of the world was buying up PPE and ventilators we were told it might be better to go for herd immunity and just ‘Take it on the chin’ as Boris said. Of course, it’s true that herd immunity will be necessary before we can say Covid-19 isn’t a problem but to actively pursue it before we have a vaccine!  Let’s just look at what that means. For herd immunity to be meaningful the reality is that around 70% at least of the surviving community will have had the disease and developed antibodies.

The word ‘surviving’ is important here. If we do just take it on the chin we are very likely to lose large numbers of elderly, infirm, disabled and those who live in cramped circumstances – you know – those on benefits who can’t afford anything bigger.

That would be no great loss to the likes of Cummings as they’re the ones he wants out of the gene pool to begin with. Perhaps that’s why Michael Gove, months into the crisis was still suggesting that the UK ‘run the virus hot’, meaning merely to allow it to run its course. Perhaps that’s why, despite claiming to be guided by the science – from Mr. Cummings’ SAGE group – we waited so long before entering lockdown despite the advice of the science from Italy, from China and from the World Health Organisation itself.

But hang on, I hear you cry – we’ve built new hospitals, ordered tests and bought loads of PPE. We’ve recruited loads of retired medical and nursing staff and even Burberry and Dyson are making kit for healthcare workers to use.

Yes, that’s all true.

But we’ve also seen government guidance to increase the use of do not resuscitate orders, to discharge elderly people back to care homes without testing, even if we think they have Covid-19, to ramp up DNR orders on otherwise healthy disabled people and the government has ignored care home death figures until forced to acknowledge them by the press.

We still haven’t managed to get into gear for this pandemic even though the government’s own 2016 exercise, operation Cygnus clearly demonstrated how unprepared we were and recommended doing all the things we’re now doing relatively half-heartedly and far too late.

Burberry may well be making hospital gowns but many smaller firms, not owned by tory party donors are offering help and being ignored by the government, even though they have stocks already in their warehouses which they are now forced to sell to other countries just to stay afloat.

We have a ‘ward care ceiling’ policy which is used as a matter of course to deny elderly and disabled people access to ICU beds – despite the fact that we have new Nightingale hospitals still unused that could accommodate them.

It seems that there are plenty of resources as tory MPs all across UK have been instructed to tell us but only if you’re not in one of those groups I mentioned earlier. You know…

The elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes.

Much is being said about the economy and how difficult it will be to recover from this but that’s hardly the point. Proper taxation of the wealthiest – those we now know are far from vital to our country’s welfare and a proper scrutiny of offshore accounts would go a long way to sorting out that problem.

So, it seems would culling the elderly, the disabled, the unemployed, the sick and those in care homes. And that culling wouldn’t need to hurt the pockets of those wealthy tory donors.

If only the government had a eugenicist pulling the strings!

 

How dare you Matt Hancock?

How bloody dare you?

It’s not #NHS staff who are misusing #PPE. It’s all the numpties wearing it for dog-walking or wearing the same gloves from one customer to the next in shops. It’s all those selfish oafs who stock their cupboards full of much-needed kit & then stay at home. That’s the misuse that means we #nurses can’t get enough PPE!

But even that pales into insignificance against the decade of cuts that has left the health service so depleted we hadn’t stocks to begin with.

As usual, for all their superficial praise, the Tories are gearing up to blame us for their betrayal of our efforts against #coronavirus. And as usual, people will believe them and another bit of the NHS will be declared unfit for purpose and flogged off once the crisis passes.

Tory MPs caught telling the truth

stokehospfe-581175Yes, I know – trawling through Hansard can be a pain. So much of a pain that few people ever bother but I promise you, it’s well worth it if you want to know what’s actually going on. It’s one thing to see how an MP votes but if you want to actually catch them in their hypocrisy then Hansard is the place to go.

On Thursday January 16th, the House of Commons debated a motion tabled by Shadow secretary of state of health, Jon Ashworth. It was a proposed amendment to the new Health and Social care legislation proposed in the Queen’s Speech. The amendment would acknowledge that nothing less than a cumulative 4% increase in NHS funding would suffice to repair the damage caused by long-term Tory underfunding since 2010. Mr. Ashworth began…

“I beg to move an amendment, at the end of the Question to add:

‘but respectfully regrets that the Gracious Speech fails to ensure that the National Health Service and social care will be properly funded;
and calls for the Government to bring forward a plan and additional funding to end the crisis in social care and provide for at least a 4 per cent per year real terms increase in health spending.’. “

Yasmin Qureshi Shadow Minister for Justice reported that…

“When Labour came to power in 1997, there were 1.3 million people on a waiting list—the highest number since the NHS was created in 1948. The Labour Government used targeted and sufficient funding to bring all those figures down, to the point where A&E waiting times were down to four hours and waiting lists were down to 18 weeks. It is regrettable that the Government now want to abolish the A&E waiting time target. Is that simply to spare Ministers’ blushes? Since last October, 320,034 people waited more than four hours at A&E, whereas in 2010 the figure was just 41,231.”

This is, of course a damning indictment of not only the conservative mishandling of the NHS since 2010 but also of the previous tory government that ran it down in much the same manner prior to 1997.

This is why a minimum, consistent 4% increase is so vital. But it’s not only the opposition that are highlighting such damning figures. The tories themselves are unhappy at the state of the NHS too. That’s why Conservative MP. Desmond Swayne’s words near the beginning of the proceedings were so important…

“This motion is about giving the NHS the funding it needs. It is a motion that will test every newly elected Conservative Member of Parliament on their commitment to the NHS.”

And test them it will!

JenkyEvery single Conservative MP claimed to support the NHS. My own MP, Mark Jenkinson was extremely clear about his intention to support extra funding for health and social care services of a kind that would make a genuine difference to the level of service available to his working class constituents.

Swayne continued…

“The hon. Gentleman will recall that the Government accepted the Dilnot proposals and even put in place certain legislative provisions for them to be implemented in the next financial year.”

The Dilnot proposal recommended placing a maximum cap on the amount that individuals could be asked to contribute to their care in any circumstance, including issues related to old age or chronic illness. The conservative government scrapped their commitment to it in 2017 leading to the famous ‘Dementia tax’ proposal that lost Theresa May so much ground in the election of that year.

methode_times_prod_web_bin_2a323d4e-a85e-11e7-b9a3-2cac9d6c85bd.jpg

“…I never understood why, during the 2017 election campaign, they departed from that position—but what is the Opposition’s position on Dilnot?”

The commitment to Dilnot has still not been reinstated by the Conservative government despite its popularity within the country at large. Speaking for the labour party Jon Ashworth, Secretary of State for Health responded…

“We have long argued for a cap on care costs, but of course the Government, as the right hon. Gentleman says, dropped their support for this policy.”

He went on to remark that…

“This is a motion about the 4.5 million people on waiting lists… This is a motion about the 34,000 people who wait more than two months for cancer treatment. This is a motion about those constituents, such as mine in Leicester, who had their bladder cancer operations cancelled twice. This is a motion about the 79,000 cancelled operations last year, and the 18,000 children’s cancelled operations. This is a motion about the 110,000 children denied mental health care, even though they are in the most desperate of circumstances. This is a motion about the 98,000 patients who waited on trolleys last month—a 65% increase on the previous year—many of them elderly, many of them in their 80s and 90s, languishing for hours and hours on trolleys in hospital corridors… This is a motion about the 1.5 million people, many of them with dementia, denied the social care support they need after years and years of swingeing cuts.”

Mr. Ashworth later remarked…

“The Secretary of State is proposing a Bill that fails to reverse the £850 million of cuts to public health prevention services… He is asking us to approve a Bill that does not reverse the raids on capital budgets or deal with the £6.5 billion backlog of repairs facing our hospitals… He is proposing a Bill that does not give the NHS the 4% uplift annually that many experts say it needs. That is why Labour has tabled an amendment today to give the NHS a 4% uplift, and every Tory MP who believes in the NHS should support it.”

Every Tory MP who believes in the NHS should support it.

But that’s all very well. The opposition is supposed to call out the government on its plans and claims. What did the Conservative MPs have to say about the NHS after 10 years of their own party’s policies? For example, Caroline Johnson, Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham pointed again to the ‘creative accounting’ of the Prime Minister’s claims about new nursing staff…

“I want to ask him about the 44,000 vacancies that he talked about. Is it not right that when the Health Committee looked at that, it found that 38,000 of those places were actually occupied by nurses who work on the bank?”

Daniel Poulter MP is a Conservative with grave concerns about the impact of market forces on the NHS…

“There is a particular concern among patients and people who work in the NHS about the fragmentation of services, which has been the result of the sometimes market-driven approach to the delivery of healthcare and the encroachment of the private sector on the delivery of traditional NHS services.

“As a clinician, what matters most to me is that we deliver the right services for patients. We need to recognise that the involvement of private sector provision has sometimes led to greater fragmentation and a lack of joined-up care for patients.”

The damage caused by this fragmentation is plain to see thanks to the targets and metrics set up by the last Labour government. And they make very telling reading.
What is the Tories’ answer to the worst A&E performance figures on record? It is to scrap the four-hour A&E target. Abolishing the target will not magic away the problems in A&E. It will not suddenly fix a system that saw 100,000 people waiting on trolleys last December.

Perhaps most bizarrely, Mike Penning is the tory MP from Hemel Hempstead. Despite knowing full well the problems resulting from the last 10 years of tory governance he still intends to vote against the amendment…

“We have got into a situation where the only way we can fight this, believe it or not, is to take the trust to court. There is a lack of accountability—I have called for debates in this House on that for years now. The only way we can fight the fact that the trust has only put in a bid for refurbishment of the Watford site is to take it to court and challenge it under judicial review. I have a fantastic community. We have raised the money. We will go to court. But is it not crazy that here I am praising, and I will be voting for, the Queen’s Speech and against Labour’s amendment, when I am saying that the £400 million being offered by the Government is going to the wrong place?”

Those voters local to me might be interested to know that despite assurances to support our health and care services, Mark Jenkinson MP also voted not to increase funding for the NHS and Social care last week.

James Davies MP is a Conservative. He’s also a doctor. He seems less than confident that the concerns of his profession will be met sympathetically by the Secretary of State for Health.…

“I have outlined not only interesting statistics, but sadly an indication of unnecessary loss of life and of harm to real patients. At the very least, there is a need for UK-wide patient safety mechanisms and rigorous inspection regimes, underpinned by comparable statistical data on performance and outcomes. I urge the Secretary of State seriously to consider that when progressing the initiatives outlined in the Queen’s Speech.”

Barbara Keeley, Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Social Care may have made the most direct appeal, whilst calling out Boris on his lies about a ‘clear plan’ before the General election…

“Proposing a solution to the crisis in care should be the Government’s top priority, as we have heard in many of the speeches this afternoon. However, despite the Prime Minister’s earlier pledge to fix the crisis in social care once and for all, and with a clear plan we have prepared, he now says only that he will do something ‘in this Parliament’. After 10 years of inaction, is that the best the Prime Minister can say, alongside a vague offer of cross-party talks?”

But for me it was the many Conservative voices highlighting the inadequacy of their own government’s funding strategy that resonated the most. If only these people would vote with their consciences. But hey ho – they are Tories, after all!

The bastards still voted not to increase it though!

Taking up the slack

Saffron Cordery is the deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, the membership organisation for NHS hospitals, mental health, community and ambulance services. These guys really do know what they’re talking about.

According to Cordery, writing in The Independent just after the general election, Boris’ government, for all its fine words is setting the NHS and Social care up to fail, not least in respect of older people.

Not that this comes as any great surprise to those of us who’ve been watching developments since 2010. The Tories, with the help of their LibDem enablers, have been stitching up our NHS, ready to sell it off to the highest bidder for years.

“Although quality of care once you’re in the system has held up remarkably well, timely access to treatment in the NHS has been slipping for years, despite frontline staff working harder than ever – so hard, in fact, that they’re in danger of burning out. Demand has been steadily outstripping supply; gaps in the workforce have widened substantially; our assets have deteriorated; and financial investment has been lower in the past decade than at any point in the NHS’s 70-year history.”
For all his fine words, Mr. Johnson is well aware that his promise of funding falls way short of the amount currently provided to our country’s flagship health service. Even if he restored funding to previous levels the backlog of neglect and decay, of equipment and buildings upgrades would mean a significant cut in comparative terms.

Last July Boris promised the nation that he had “a clear plan we have prepared to give every older person the dignity they deserve“.

The tories may be promising money but they’re hardly making much of an effort.

Of course, they can’t make too big an effort because the money’s already earmarked for tax cuts and perks for big corporations. Which is why the health, mental health and social care sectors are to be left to pick up the slack.

If you thought the last 10 years were bad, just watch this space. There’s far worse to come.

Paul’s gone to the dogs part 2

Part 2 of my interview with Paul from ‘Gone to the dogs’. He has some very big plans to harness the power of the community to help those in need. It goes way beyond feeding people, important though that is.Here Paul talks about some of the fantastic help and goodwill the project receives from local people and businesses. This really is a community working together for the common good.
https://youtu.be/BLoovB3opVs

Boris brings back the bursary!

The mainstream news has made a big deal of Boris’ commitment to restore the bursary for student nurses. This rather small amount of money (£6,000 per year) was ended by a previous Tory administration in 2016, resulting in a very significant decline in student nurse numbers. The new, far right administration has decided to sweeten the pill of its own policy portfolio by restoring it, apparently as part of the bid to increase nursing numbers by 50, 000 after the election. We now learn that this figure is intended to be achieved a full 10 years after the election, that 19,000 of those nurses are already nursing in the NHS and that there is no cohesive plan to retain the qualified nurses currently leaving the NHS in droves due to Tory mismanagement of the health service.
But let’s examine this ‘generous’ bursary claim, shall we?

Bursaries

I began my nurse training in 1992 with a bursary on £4,800 and no charge for tuition fees. That amounted to around £90 per week out of which I had to find food, rent, textbooks, and clothing for work. In the trust I trained at psych nurses wore suits and so did the students. Qualified staff got their suits paid for but we didn’t. I had to budget for suits, shirts and decent shoes for work as well. At the start of our training we were all given a voucher worth £50.00 for textbooks from the local Waterstones but as you might imagine that didn’t go terribly far.

Life was hard in those days. Three years on we were still on the same £4,800 a year. Most of us had to take second jobs just to survive. I regularly used to cycle 10 miles to a local nursing home to work a night shift after work or college only to cycle back again in the morning, have a quick shower and turn up back on the ward for my shift in the NHS. But, of course, things are different now…

Bursaries 3

The majority of today’s students will receive a bursary of £5,000 per year. That’s about £8 a week more than I got 28 years ago. And they’ll have tuition fees to pay for and much higher rents. My accommodation in the nurses home was on the hospital grounds. It was subsidised by the NHS but even the nurses home is no longer a thing in today’s dog eat dog NHS market.

Some lucky students, for example those who follow me into psychiatric nursing will receive more, up to £8,000 apparently. That’s about £160 a week. Again, hardly a lot when you have textbooks to buy and suitable ward clothing to maintain. How much of that will go on accommodation? How much on food or travel to placements which are now much further afield than they were in my day due to the way services are delivered post 2012.

Bursaries 2

If we want to maintain a strong nursing profession we need to look after our new entrants. It’s a hard life being a student nurse, especially once the student becomes ‘part of the numbers’ and is relied upon as a pair of hands on placement, no longer there just to learn but actually to work as well. There are lectures to attend, placement assessments and assignments to pass, exams to cram for and still, clinical work to do as part of the nursing team just like any other. It can be exhausting.

If Boris really thinks a few grand a year will be a significant encouragement to new students I think he’s sadly mistaken, especially when so many qualified nurses are leaving the profession they love because it’s just too hard to make ends meet. And if that’s true for qualified staff, what chance have the poor students?