UNISON vows to campaign for midwives and their patients

Eleanor Smith makes pledge at TUC Congress alongside the Royal College of Midwives

Abolishing the NHS bursary for healthcare students England when there is a shortage of midwives is “a massively retrograde step”, UNISON’s Eleanor Smith told TUC delegates in Brighton this morning.

Seconding a motion from the Royal College of Midwives on protecting continuity of care, she said the move will stop “many potential healthcare students from going on to become midwives, nurses or allied health professionals” but, more than that, “it will affect patient care – because the supply of dedicated health professionals will be affected”.

“Healthcare students are not like other students,” added Ms Smith, a theatre nurse.

“They work the same hours as paid healthcare staff. They are not able to get paid jobs alongside their time on wards and their time doing their studies.

“So lumbering them with anything up to £50,000 of debt is simply not a sustainable option – for students, for patients, for our NHS.”

She also pointed to the need to make sure that healthcare staff from elsewhere in the EU keep their right to remain in the UK after Brexit.

“Without the dedication and graft of our colleagues from Europe – and indeed other countries from all over the world – our NHS would grind to a halt,” she declared.

“Theresa May, let them stay!”