Nick Ferrari challenges the health secretary on NHS nurses promise

18 December 2019, 09:27

Nick Ferrari challenges health secretary Matt Hancock on the Conservatives' NHS promise to hire 50,000 nurses after launching a new bursary.

"It's not quite 50,000," said Nick, "19,000 of whom are already in post, Mr Hancock."

The health sectetary replied, "We made these promises to the NHS in our campaign... and I can tell you we are absolutely determined to deliver on them.

"One of the commitments was to increase the number of nurses in the NHS by 50,000."

Nick interjected, "19,000 of whom are retained."

Mr Hancock said the way that you increase the number of NHS nurses is a combination of hiring and retaining; "we're pushing ahead on that today with the announcement of this new training ground". The health secretary is referring to the Conservatives' promise to give nursing students a bursary of up to £8,000.

He continued that too many nurses are leaving the NHS so is aiming for a better culture of support and retention packages, "If I can reduce that number of nurses leaving then there will be more nurses in the NHS."

Nick Ferrari challenges the health secretary on NHS nurses promise
Nick Ferrari challenges the health secretary on NHS nurses promise. Picture: PA

"What matters for patients is 'is there a nurse at my bedside?'"

In response to accusations of untruths about the amount of new nurses, he said, "More is different from new."

Mr Hancock then explained the new bursary system.

Nick posited that the choice to take away the nursing bursaries in the first place was a mistake.

"We're all grown-ups now, we can say it was a mistake in 2016," said Nick.

Mr Hancock avoided agreeing, "I understand why it was done and we're putting that training ground back in."

"You can't say the word mistake?" asked Nick and Matt Hancock insisted he wanted to be a "positive politician", however it was "very clear" what he thought about it as he's now bringing this policy back.

Mr Hancock did clarify that nurses would still have to pay for tuition fees, but there are various loans in place to help.

"It almost doubles the support available for student nurses," he said.