By Hannah Blythyn

MS for Delyn

The Welsh Government has this month announced that it will extend the NHS Wales Bursary scheme to eligible healthcare students studying in the 2023-24 academic year.

This will mean student nurses, midwives and allied healthcare professionals who commit to working in Wales for up to two years after qualifying are eligible for the bursary, which provides non-repayable support covering tuition fees and living costs. I know that this is something that makes such a differences to both individuals and the NHS workforce as a whole and I welcome the Welsh Government’s commitment to consult on the best way of continuing to support people studying healthcare programmes in Wales to ensure that Wales continues to attract and retain the brightest and the best to serve our communities.

It also set out last week that the flu vaccination programme will be extended for a second year, meaning that more than 1.5m people in Wales will be eligible for a free vaccine again this year.

Those eligible for a free vaccine also include pregnant women, those with underlying health conditions and children aged two – ten years of age. An additional funding package of £7.85m will be allocated to health boards to help reach more people - last year more people in Wales than ever before received a flu vaccine as part of the annual flu vaccination programme with the aim to help protect both the public and the NHS.

The incredible role that unpaid carers play and the pressures they face in families across our communities has been brought into ever sharper focus during the coronavirus pandemic, with so many carers not being able to take breaks to help them cope with the pressures of their caring responsibilities. Restrictions during lockdown have limited where they can go and what they can do, and meant carers were unable to access support from family and friends, leading to further fatigue and, in some cases, pushing them near to breaking point. A new Welsh Government

backed scheme, which will benefit from funding for the next three years, will increase opportunities for unpaid carers to take a break from their caring role.

Leader readers will be aware, that I have long called out the closures of banks on our high streets and have supported the campaign for a Community Bank for Wales. Earlier this year, I was pleased to welcome representatives of the Community Bank to Holywell to meet both with local councillors and the credit union and to see first-hand how a Community Bank would bring broader benefits to our towns. This week in the Senedd, I met with Monmouthshire Building Society to discuss the progress being made to introduce a Community Bank for Wales by 2023. The initial goal is to provide thirty branches, with its aim is to improve banking services and access to cash to help address the bank closures in a way the serves the community not shareholders. I continue to campaign on this and look forward to seeing further progress.

If you have an issue, you would like to speak to me about, I will do my best to help.

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