We Want a System That Rewards and Values the Wonderful Contribution That Nurses Make Every Day to the NHS ; Comment
Adams, Gail, The Independent (London, England)
NHS childcare allowance
A missed opportunity or a radical step towards supporting nurses? Earlier this month John Reid announced a new childcare scheme, which could see up to 85 per cent of student nurses' childcare costs being covered by additional funding, helping around 6,000 students a year with up to pounds 114 a week for students with one child or pounds 170 a week for those with two or more children.
While clearly this step is to be welcomed, the fact that it is means- tested may put off some students who are thinking about becoming a nurse. Another problem is that to qualify for the funding, the childcare has to be provided by a registered child minder: this would therefore exclude grandparents or other family members from being the chosen paid carers.
The reality is that student nurses and indeed all members of the healthcare professions need the provision of childcare in their places of work. How many healthcare facilities have a creche? How many NHS hospitals have an on-site nursery?
This announcement does not go far enough. It was made only to support student nurses who have existing childcare costs. If however a student nurse falls pregnant during her studies, she is given no maternity leave, or pay. She has to stop her training and re-apply following the birth of her baby.
Unison acknowledges that the Government is taking positive steps, however student nurses deserve more than this. They need employment rights; they need to know that if they fall pregnant or become unwell during their studies, their training will not be terminated. Unlike other students, they work full-time and should be paid for their work. The drop-out rate among student nurses continues to grow, yet we have failed to address the very real issue of student poverty: the majority qualify with debts exceeding pounds 10,000 - hardly an incentive into nursing.
Almost 13,000 overseas nurses joined the Nursing and Midwifery Council last year, and the Philippines continues to be the largest contributor to our workforce. While we welcome the Government's commitment to review its guidelines on ethical recruitment, it is long overdue.
Overseas nurses continue to be exploited and a small number of private organisations continue to see them as cheap labour - actively exploiting legal loopholes. We need a radical overhaul of how nurses are recruited from overseas. Although many choose to work in the UK either for economic reasons or for professional development, we cannot continue to deplete developing countries of their trained nurses. …