BACK in September 2020, whilst attempting to socially distance from a couple coming towards me, I caught my foot in a mooring ring on the canal towpath in Skipton, fell forwards spectacularly and knocked myself unconscious.

I received excellent help from the Police Community Support Officer who picked me up and then from the staff at Airedale Hospital who stitched me back together.

This week I had a follow-up appointment at Airedale and again was impressed by the compassionate, thorough care I received.

The public's appreciation of medical staff is really high at the moment because of their hard work and commitment during the pandemic.

The good news this week has been that the numbers applying to be student nurses have increased by 32 per cent.

Great - but the numbers aren't quite what they seem.

Back in 2015, the then Chancellor George Osborne announced that the nurses' training bursary would be scrapped from 2016.

The reason given was, ironically, that the bursary didn't fund enough student nurses.

So, the thinking went, if you dropped the bursary and dumped the whole cost of tuition and support onto student nurses - so they had to pay the same as other students - you could have more training places and this would increase the number of student nurses.

Unsurprisingly, prospective student nurses didn't see it that way and their numbers plummeted by about 40 per cent. So then in December 2019, Boris Johnson triumphantly announced that they were bringing back the bursaries (though at a somewhat smaller level than before, if we read the small print).

Health Secretary Matt Hancock commented at the time: "If you want a rewarding career in nursing, which is an incredibly rewarding profession, then you can get going now, knowing that that financial support will be there".

Even though he managed to crowbar the word "rewarding" into that sentence twice, student nurses are still worse off financially than they were in 2015, and the numbers of them are climbing up to about where they were before the bursary was scrapped.

The pandemic has shown that we need properly-paid nurses, and enough of them so that they aren't worked so hard that they suffer burnout and leave.

How many of these nursing students will still be working in the profession in ten years' time?

We need our nurses. They care for us. We need to care for them.

Daphne Franks