An eleventh hour attempt by a former Labour cabinet minister to block Tory plans to scrap bursaries for student nurses has been defeated.
Lord Clark of Windermere tabled a regret motion aimed at derailing the ending of bursaries for trainee healthcare workers later this year.
But the former South Shields MPs’ proposal was voted down just 20 minutes before the ceremony to dissolve Parliament ahead of the general election began.
Blogging for Huff Post UK this week, Lord Clark said: “Our health service is a rare combination of a labour intensive organisation with cutting-edge technology and science, but it is only a matter of time before it cracks. Not just because Ministers continue to restrict NHS wage increases but because we also have a serious shortage of staff.”
He said the government was about to make ‘a tragic situation’ worse by risking the future recruitment of UK students and ‘making student nurses pay for the privilege of learning to look after people in hospital”.
Lord O’Shaughnessy, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, took aim at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership in his response to the motion - an unusually party-political move in the Upper House - congratulating Lord Clark for ‘his prescience in scheduling this debate several weeks ago’.
“He clearly has admirers in the Leader of the Opposition’s office given that they have taken his proposal and put it in their manifesto,” he added.
“I will leave it to others to decide whether having a policy adopted by Jeremy Corbyn is a good thing or not.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said Labour would reinstate the bursary scheme if it gets into government.
In a speech at UNISON’s health conference, he said: “What is bad for NHS staff is bad for patients too. Short staffing means reduced services and a threat to patient safety. Labour’s new guarantees for NHS staff will help keep services running at the standard which England’s patients expect.”
The Lords motion was defeated by 159 votes to 121.