Anthony Johnson, 2nd year student nurse and #BursaryOrBust campaigner demonstrates his love for the NHS. Source: Danielle Tiplady Anthony Johnson, 2nd year student nurse and #BursaryOrBust campaigner demonstrates his love for the NHS. Source: Danielle Tiplady

Student nurse Anthony Johnson responds to the Migrant Advisory Committee’s advice on migrant nurses in the UK

The Bursary Or Bust campaign was pleased to hear that Nursing had been placed upon the Shortage Occupation List (SOL) by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) although we are not surprised that it has come to this. The government was warned, almost 4 years ago, that the cuts to nursing places in universities, combined with the changes to immigration policies for non-EU migrants would precipitate a Nursing Shortage. The government did not listen and questions must be answered as to why they have done this?

Of course it is our opinion that the government wished to undermine the profession, put it under pressure and consequently destroy our NHS. For those that don’t seem convinced we would ask why does London have a 17% vacancy rate? Perhaps because the government cut places so heavily in this geographic area? Or because the cost of living has outstripped pay to cause nurses to migrate from the area?

As has been stated within the MAC’s report it is unlikely that ‘Applicants to Nursing’ will rise under the current public sector pay restraint which will worsen the staffing shortage. Our salaries have fallen by 14% over the past 6 years in real terms! Nurses cannot afford to live and yet this government thinks that attacking our future workforce is the way to solve a retention crisis? Why not pay them properly?

This talk that exists within nursing of the ‘ebbs and flows’ in recruitment in retention are related to pay and morale. When nurses pay is reduced, when they are demonised in the press and when they just don’t have the ability to provide safe care, they will leave because no human can cope under this pressure.

We call upon the Department of Health and this government to increase the Agenda for Change to halt the recruitment crisis that this government has artificially created. We would ask that every healthcare worker publicly voices their concern at the current state of the NHS. Finally we would ask that the NHS Bursary is retained.

If we remove the NHS Bursary, we will obliterate any chance of the citizens of this country having safe care. We need more nurses! A vacancy rate of almost 10% in the NHS is not safe! If we are to retain our NHS, free and universal to all then we must invest in it.

We will walk-out of placement on the 6th April followed by a die in protest at the Department of Health to fight for the NHS Bursary. We hope that our qualified counterparts will support us, in any way they choose, to speak out for our health service. We have paid & worked too hard for our right for healthcare to lose it now. Bevan said that the NHS will last as long as folk have the will to fight for it. Well we do! And we ask that all people in this country join us and the rest of the health service in our fight to protect it.