Express & Star comment: Time to raise pay for our nurses
Recruitment for new nurses has been challenging for some time. It is time to put that right.
Our beloved NHS is saving scores of lives each day. On wards across the region, people whose chances of survival are slim are being given another shot. The tireless care and professionalism that doctors, nurses, porters and administrative staff shower on the sick and needy is remarkable. It is little wonder that we applaud them from our doorsteps each Thursday.
But we can and should do more. By providing better pay and conditions for NHS staff, particularly those entering the profession, we help to future-proof the organisation. We provide it with the pool of talent that will enable it to continue doing its incredible work for many years to come. We make nursing a more rewarding occupation and one that people can enter without suffering personal hardship.
Student nurses work hard. Most of them spend what little holiday they have working on wards, to gain experience. Others have to work a separate, part-time job in order to make ends meet.
Many student nurses finish their courses with considerable debt: £9,000 is the figure that has been quoted for a majority. The Government could help to eliminate that debt so that youngsters can move into the caring profession as they embark upon lifelong careers.
The issue is particularly relevant locally and has been bought to life by Geoff Layer, vice chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton.
He wants the pandemic to be a watershed moment that leads to new thinking and a more compassionate society. The Government could support those who are in the process of joining the thousands of nurses who have trained locally and go on to work in Wolverhampton, Telford, Walsall and other parts of the region.
Extra payments to make nursing more attraction and the writing-off of debts for those struggling to make ends meet would be a start. This is a time when the value of the NHS has become more tangible than ever before. While kind words and public affection will provide succour for some, many require hard cash for their fearless acts of bravery.
The Government has shown it can find money to help the most needy causes and there are few more deserving than those who wish to spend their working lives in our beloved NHS.