Nurses challenge Boris Johnson as he uses hospital visit to campaign for votes

Staff at West Cornwall Hospital grill prime minister on financial hardship and nurse numbers

Staff at West Cornwall Hospital grill prime minister on financial hardship and nurse numbers

Boris Johnson takes tea with some nursing staff  Picture: Getty Images

Nursing staff grilled prime minister Boris Johnson on his election pledges when he visited a hospital on the campaign trail.

The Conservative leader was asked if he had a ‘nurses tree’ as well as a magic money tree, in light of the Conservatives' promise of 50,000 'more' nurses for the NHS in England. This, despite the fact 19,000 of those nurses are already working – so the promise is based on retaining rather than recruiting them.

Mr Johnson conceded the point over a cup of tea with nursing staff at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance.

No promise to end tuition fees for nursing students in Conservative manifesto

The Tory manifesto promises £5,000 cost-of-living grants for nursing students, but not to scrap the system of tuition fees and loans.

When one nursing student told Mr Johnson she was 'really struggling' financially, he replied: 'We are definitely bringing back the bursary… but I'll have to check that [tuition fees].'

Another nurse asked Mr Johnson: 'Where are these people going to come from?'

He replied: 'I think we should have a programme of making sure people who have grown up in this country have a career in nursing and see a vocation in nursing, I think it is a fantastic thing for the UK.

'We’ve also got to make sure we are open to people from around the world.'

'Is there a nurses tree as well as a money tree? 

Another nurse asked: 'Do you have a nurses tree too, as well as a money tree?', referring to a comment former prime minister Theresa May made to a nurse, in which she said there was 'no magic money tree' for nurses' pay.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Green Party all say they would reinstate the nursing student bursary if they came to power, with Labour saying it would add 24,000 to the workforce in England in the next five years.

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