Glastonbury festival founder Michael Eavis is to give away up to 500 tickets for the 2019 event to trainee nurses in the Mendip area, where the festival is based.
Speaking at Shepton Mallet’s summer fete in July, Eavis said he made the decision following a conversation with the local NHS trust chairman, who had complained about a lack of trainees.
The tickets are available to Mendip-area students who are enrolled on a nursing course this year, according to a statement on the Glastonbury festival’s website. A spokesperson for the festival told the Guardian that, as well as a gesture of support for the NHS, Eavis wants the initiative to encourage more people to take up the profession.
Somerset has a shortage of registered nurses, with inpatient beds at Shepton Mallet, Chard and Dene Barton community hospitals temporarily closed last October as a result.
In February, Hayley Peters, chief nurse for the Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, stated that “there are no more nurses in Somerset”. The trust unsuccessfully attempted to recruit nurses from India in 2016.
The issues in Somerset are part of a nationwide crisis, with the Royal College of Nursing finding the UK “desperately short of nurses”. In January, it was found that only one in seven nursing positions in England were filled, with some areas filling less that 1% of their positions. Agency nurses, brought in to fill the gaps in NHS provision, cost the NHS £2.4bn in 2017.
Glastonbury festival, meanwhile, is preparing for its 2019 edition, following a fallow year. The rumour mill around headline performers has begun, with co-organiser Emily Eavis saying that Paul McCartney – soon returning with new music – is “top of our list”.
Regarding the Sunday afternoon “legend” slot previously filled by Dolly Parton, Barry Gibb and others, Emily told Radio 2: “I’ll give you a clue: it’s a female. She is not British, but I can’t give you any more clues because it will get me into trouble.”
Mendip trainee nurses keen to take up Eavis’s offer should email firstname.lastname@example.org with their Glastonbury registration number.