Apprenticeship nursing was always the plan, because lower cost nursing was always the plan.
The government do not accept the causal relationship between lower patient mortality and the advent of degree nursing; other factors may be implicated, such as the often touted advancements in medical treatments. To defend degree nursing by claiming it to have had a singular effect is, perhaps, like suggesting crops grow better when given nitrogen, and not mentioning they need water and sunlight.
Neither can the ‘toughness’ of the degree course be exhibited as a defence. No doubt it is very tough, with students working half of their time on clinical placements, including weekends, nights, bank holidays. Non-degree students of yore, of course, spent much more than half of their course on the coal face, but the study of nursing theory may not have been so intense. (Not all nurses of yore would agree).
Loans were always going to replace bursaries – the ball and chain of £50,000 of debt is the very mantra of a neoliberal government that sells this ethos as ‘taking a punt’, of being ‘aspirational’. Think about it, Frankie and Johny Nurse meet as care assistants on an NHS ward ( which will be the only route into apprenticeship nursing) and rake up £100, 000 of debt between them, not counting likely credit card debt (currently £10, 000 per household in the Uk), then decide to buy a house. Another £150,000 of debt (actually £450,000 over 25 years). A big Sword of Damocles, this, and one likely to induce fear, and unquestioning obediance to the dictates of the employer. A battle not likely to last very long. The current so called shortage of nurses is mostly a retention issue. “Stop the train, let me get off”, shout the 5 year qualified nurses, “enough Is enough”.
Unsocial hours payments will be stopped. The doctors are a test case. If the government breeches their defenses, the lesser ranks will be easy pickings.
A&E will be privatised, turn up Friday night to have your stomach pumped and that will be £1,000, nice little earner, eh? They are already licking their lips, a la Americano.
Nursing is following the dictates of ‘the market’.
The top feeders will look after their own interests.
In the mortgage paying world of reality, it will not count a bean who or what a lecturer teaches.
In the coffee and bun conference halls of the RCN, it will not count a fake nursing certificate who pays the subscriptions.
In the government attack-dog world of the NMC, nothing matters other than control and a business friendly ethos.
Nurses exist within a hypocrisy zone.
At this point, in many articles, I have entreated nurses to ‘rise and fight’, but I have come to the conclusion this is like asking sheep to lead the Charge of the Light Brigade.
lenin nightingale 2016