We need to stand up for our NHS

Nurses
Nurses
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Congratulations to The Star for celebrating International Nurses’ Day with a portrait of today’s varied, challenging and important profession, (Meet the nurses who are proud to make a difference).

I would also like to highlight the challenges and difficulties facing anyone today who is thinking about training as a nurse, midwife or associated health professional.

Until this year, they could receive a bursary covering their tuition fees, but now they face the same student loan system as those on other courses.

This means that they will finish courses with £40,000 or more worth of debt – before going into a public service that’s far from well paid.

No wonder then that applications for nursing were down 23 per cent this year.

There’s a global shortage of healthcare professionals.

With Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt doing his best to drive away our junior doctors, potential nurses being pushed away from the profession by the weight of debt, and many European nurses leaving the UK due to uncertainty over their future, the Tory government is putting the future of our NHS even more at risk.

I’ve marched with student nurses defending the rights of their future colleagues to bursaries. I’ve stood on the picket lines with junior doctors demanding respectful treatment.

It’s clear we need to stand up for our NHS at the coming election – and we need to fight also against its privatisation, one that was started by Labour through its “internal market”.

That’s why the Green Party alone has consistently championed the NHS Reinstatement Bill, which would return our health service to its original principles. Our manifesto also plans to restore free dental and eye care.

Natalie Bennett

Green Party candidate for Sheffield Central