31 January 2018
Green councillors in Brighton and Hove are calling on the Government to reinstate bursaries for nurses. A proposal going to a meeting of Full Council this Thursday (Feb 1) notes the current shortage of NHS nurses, which has reached critical levels both locally and nationally.
If passed, the Chief Executive will be asked write to the Secretary of State requesting that bursaries for nursing degree courses be reinstated with immediate effect to help to avoid a worsening of the crisis in nurse recruitment and retention, with ongoing monitoring provided via the local Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee. News sources today have revealed that staff shortages and high demand on Royal Sussex County Hospital have caused challenges, with its CEO commenting that ‘It’s been the toughest winter I’ve ever experienced.’ 
Cllr Lizzie Deane, who is proposing the motion, said:
“It is hugely concerning that 33,000 nurses left the NHS last year, with only 30,000 joining. This exodus, combined with a 96% drop in applications from the EU post-Brexit, has resulted in the number of unfilled posts doubling in the past three years to a current level of 40,000.
“Of those leaving the NHS, 40% were under 30; meanwhile, universities are struggling to fill nursing degree courses, with the Royal College of Nurses reporting a 23% fall in applications since bursaries were abolished last August. We fear that the prospect of tuition fees and the continuing cap on pay rises is acting as a deterrent to prospective nursing students.”
A report to the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust in July 2017  revealed there were almost a thousand (972) unfilled posts, around half of which were nursing posts, with the acute floor of the Royal Sussex County Hospital being the worst affected. The turnover rate of 14% in the Sussex area is higher than the national rate of 12%.
Cllr Deane continued, “We are delighted that our local hospital, the Royal Sussex County Hospital, has shown dramatic improvement in recent months, and is now rated as Good by the CCG. But we are conscious that this is against a backdrop of challenging conditions of financial cuts and staff shortages. Green councillors want to show support for our local NHS by asking the Government to make the nursing profession a more attractive proposition, instead of hitting it hard at a time when help is most needed.”